NV Judge Skeptical Of Trump Camp Early Voting Lawsuit: ‘Why Are You Here?’

November 8, 2016 3:55 p.m.

A state court judge in Nevada on Tuesday expressed skepticism about a lawsuit filed by the Donald Trump campaign the day before that alleged that the closing times at certain early voting poll sites in Las Vegas had been illegally extended.

The judge, Gloria Sturnam, denied the Trump campaign’s request for a court order after it had already received an informal confirmation that the information about poll workers at the sites relevant to the case would be preserved.

“I am not going to issue any order. I am not going to do it,” Sturnam said.

The Trump campaign lawsuit was filed against Joe P. Gloria, registrar of voters in Clark County, which includes Las Vegas. It claimed that he kept certain polling locations, some in predominately Latino areas, open for “two hours beyond the designated closing time” on Friday, the last night of early voting.

The lawsuit claimed that at four Las Vegas early voting sites, including the Hispanic grocery store Cardenas, voters were allowed to vote on Friday, even if they arrived at the location after 8 p.m., when early voting officially closed.

The Trump campaign in the complaint requested that the early vote ballots cast at the locations in question not be “co-mingled or interspersed” with other ballots while the issue is litigated.

The judge, at Tuesday’s hearing, was visibly frustrated by the Trump campaign’s request, particularly as it appeared the campaign had not first gone through the administrative route of asking the Nevada secretary of state to look into the issue.

“Are [the votes] not to be counted?” she said. “What are you saying? Why are we here? You want to preserve the poll data? That is offensive to me. Why don’t we wait to see if the secretary of state wants to do this?”

A representative for the county said at Tuesday’s hearing that, unlike on Election Day, the protocol for early voting is that polling places can stay open for as long as there is a line and workers can declare them closed once no one is left in line. She said those who arrive while there is still a line can vote, regardless of the time.

The county representative also said it would not be feasible to separate out the ballots cast by voters who allegedly got in line after 8 p.m., but that they have records to keep track of which machines were at which polling places, in the case that a result is contested.

Even after the county had signaled that it would preserve the relevant information — including the record of the elections officials working the particular sites — the lawyer for the Trump campaign still asked the judge to issue an order demanding they do as such.

“So you still think you’re somehow entitled to an order in your favor? Why?” Sturnam said, noting that the elections office, as a public agency, is already obligated to keep the records.

She raised the concern that if she issued the order, the records would eventually become public, via discovery, and that the poll workers would face harassment. She said the idea was “troubling” and “disturbing,” even as the Trump campaign lawyer promised that there would be no such harassment.

“How can you tell me that? Do you watch Twitter? Have you watched any cable news show?” Sturnam said. “There are, in the internet vernacular, trolls who can get this information and harass people who just want to help their fellow citizen vote.”

By the end of the hearing she had indicated that she had no intention of issuing such an order. The Trump campaign attorney, meanwhile, tried to spin the whole thing as a win, arguing that the hearing now provided a record of the county agreeing to preserve the information.

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