The Trump campaign Tuesday afternoon lost the first legal skirmish in an effort to throw out early voting ballots cast in a key Nevada county late Friday evening.
A Nevada judge rejected a request from the Trump campaign that he order the Clark County Registrar of Voters to preserve records from four early voting sites -- including the identities of poll workers. The judge said this was unnecessary since state law already required the registrar to preserve most of the records the campaign was seeking.
"I think there's been a failure to exhaust administrative remedies," Judge Gloria J. Sturman said in dismissing the campaign's request. The Trump campaign filed a complaint with election officials about extended early voting hours in Las Vegas on Nov. 4.
In its lawsuit filed Tuesday, the campaign charged that Joe Gloria, the Clark registrar, kept early voting sites open longer than permissible and allowed Democrats to distribute campaign literature inside the 100-foot perimeter mandated by state law. The activities "very much appear to have been intentionally coordinated with Democratic activists in order to skew the vote unlawfully in favor of Democratic candidates."
Early voting locations in Clark County were set to close at 8 p.m. local time on Friday, but several stayed open past that time because voters were in line at closing time. Nevada law is clear that voters who are in line at the poll closing time should be given an opportunity to vote, something the Trump campaign did not dispute in its filing. The campaign alleged, based on poll observers, that voters illegally joined the lines and voted after 8 p.m.
One of the early voting locations, Cardenas Market in Las Vegas, was the site of an image featured on social media showing a long line of people waiting to vote. It was unclear from the photo at what hour those people had taken their places in line.
The campaign's case might have been stronger had it not waited until this week to file suit, said David Becker, executive director of The Center for Election Innovation & Research. "The fact that they waited 60 hours from the time they first became aware of this is disconcerting," he said.
The suit asked that ballots from four early voting locations in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas be set aside pending any legal challenge to the results in Nevada, something that county officials told the judge is already required under their procedures. In addition, the campaign had sought to preserve records about the identities of poll workers at the early voting sites, something that Sturman said raised privacy concerns.