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Sisolak on Nevada GOP fake electors: ‘That is a crime’

Riley Snyder
Riley Snyder
Criminal JusticeElection 2020Elections
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Gov. Steve Sisolak is joining the chorus in calling for action against members of the Nevada Republican Party who filed false electoral certificates last year.

Sisolak, a Democrat who made similar comments to 8 News Now/KLAS-TV on Thursday, said in a statement on Friday that actions by the state Republican Party — which included sending Congress and the National Archives a copy of false electoral certificates pledging the state’s six electoral votes to former President Donald Trump — rose to the level of criminality.

“While the Governor is not a lawyer, he believes if you file a document with blatantly false statements with a government agency, that is a crime, or ought to be a crime,” his office said in a statement.

In a statement on Tuesday, Attorney General Aaron Ford, also a Democrat, said his office had received numerous inquiries about the issue and that he “cannot and will not accept any efforts to overturn a free and fair election,” but declined to comment or confirm the existence of any state-based investigation.

“While we cannot confirm or deny the existence of an investigation, rest assured that this matter is on our radar, and we take seriously any efforts to rob Nevadans of their votes,” Ford said in a statement.

A spokesperson for the attorney general’s office said on Friday that they have no additional comments on the issue. The state Republican Party did not reply to a request for comment on Friday.

The development comes more than a year after Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald and five other “electors” held an illegitimate signing ceremony outside of the Legislature in Carson City that purported to pledge the state’s six electoral votes to Donald Trump.

In reality, Joe Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes, and no evidence of widespread voter fraud has been substantiated by Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske.

The state Republican Party submitted the illegitimate election documents to the Secretary of State, Congress and the National Archives, and similar fake documents were also sent from six other states with close margins in the presidential race — Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Those documents were initially obtained by left-leaning watchdog group American Oversight in March 2021, and have received renewed interest amid news that a congressional panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection is looking into them as it attempts to retrace the former president’s state-level efforts to subvert the election.

In Nevada, the alternate signing ceremony (which was livestreamed by a pro-Trump media outlet and advertised by the party) and submission of illegitimate electoral documents was largely viewed as a publicity stunt with no legal weight. The state Supreme Court certified the results of the state’s presidential election results on Nov. 24, and on Dec. 14, 2020 — the same day as the state Republican Party’s signing ceremony — electors for Joe Biden gathered via Zoom to cast their ballots for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

Bradley Schrager, an elections attorney who often represents Democratic candidates and causes, said in an interview on Friday that he believed the state GOP’s conduct last year likely violated state laws against forgery and several federal mail fraud laws. He said the openness of the party’s conduct and actions shouldn’t preclude action.

“All this depends on how seriously you can take these people,” he said. “I would submit that it's time to start taking violations of our democratic norms and statutes pretty seriously.” 

State law requires electors to vote for the winners of the popular vote; they are legally bound not to “go rogue” and cast a ballot for people of their choice.

Several attorneys general in other states where false electoral documents were submitted have also asked the federal government to investigate, including those in Michigan and New Mexico. In Wisconsin, a pair of attorneys filed a complaint with the state ethics commission against the ten individuals who submitted false electoral documents, but the case has been delayed in part because one of the “electors” is a member of the ethics commission.

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