State and national Republican Party groups have filed a lawsuit against Clark County that’s seeking records from county commission members over an arrangement to add in-person voting locations and mailing ballots to all inactive voters for Nevada’s June 9 primary election.
The lawsuit, filed Monday by the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party in Clark County District Court, is asking a court to force the county to turn over any communications made by county election officials or county commissioners related to concessions struck between the state’s most populous county and Democratic groups, who filed an election-related lawsuit against the state in April.
Republicans nationally and statewide have panned the agreement, which includes adding additional in-person voting sites, deputizing 20 individuals as “field registrars of voters” to collect ballots on Election Day and mailing ballots to inactive voters, who are eligible to vote but have not responded to election correspondence (such as a change-of-address form) after changing addresses.
The lawsuit includes a copy of the group’s records request, and a response by Clark County attorney Mary-Anne Miller saying that applicable records are either covered by attorney-client privilege or do not exist.
"Since the Democrat-dominated Clark County Commission is refusing to comply with state law and release public records, we have been left with no other choice but to ask the court to force the county to hand them over," RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement. "Nevadans deserve answers as to how its largest county came to the decision to strike this shady backroom deal and mail thousands of ballots, including to inactive voters, that have littered the streets of Las Vegas."
The lawsuit states that an attorney for the groups filed a public records request two days after the Democratic groups and county election officials reached the agreement. Records requested included all correspondence between the seven members of the county commission related to items in the agreement.
National and state Democratic groups — including the Democratic National Committee, state Democratic Party and political nonprofit Priorities USA — filed their initial lawsuit against the state in mid-April seeking additional in-person voting sites, sending mail ballots to “inactive” voters, and suspension of several election law provisions because of the planned mostly mail primary election.
But Democrats agreed to drop a motion for a preliminary injunction in early May after Clark County election officials agreed to implement several of their requested changes, including the mailing of ballots to inactive voters and more in-person voting sites.
But Republicans, through the lawsuit, have sought more information on a legal document filed by the county’s election department stating that those decisions were made at the “direction of local county officials.”
It’s estimated that the cost of mailing ballots to “inactive” voters would cost the county around $184,000. County election officials said in an affidavit that about 90 percent of ballots mailed to inactive voters would be returned as undeliverable.
According to the lawsuit, county officials said they did not have any available records that would not be covered by attorney-client privilege. After additional requests, the county provided documents that “consist principally of blast emails from the Democratic Party or media articles” from Commissioner Jim Gibson.
“None of them provides information relevant to the County Commission’s decision to mail ballot to all inactive registered voters,” it states.
McDaniel previously sent a letter to Attorney General Aaron Ford’s office asking him to look into any potential violation of open meeting law by the county commission.