A Nevada county’s hand count of mail-in ballots was put on pause on Thursday after the state’s Supreme Court ruled the process was illegal, after previously giving it the green light.
Nye County began counting mail-in ballots on Wednesday after the state supreme court last week ruled that it be conducted in a way that prevents the public release of early results before polls close to in-person voting.
Some 60 volunteers have begun the unprecedented hand-count process, during which multiple teams of five people were split up and placed in separate rooms to count batches of 50 ballots by hand at a Nye County office building in Pahrump, 60 miles west of Las Vegas, according to local reports.
The volunteers also read the results from each ballot out loud while a verifier looked over their shoulder and talliers marked down the results on sheets of paper.
Yet after volunteers had wrapped up the second day of hand-counting the ballots on Thursday, the Supreme Court issued a three-page opinion clarifying a previous order.
The court stated that “the ability of observers to hear the read-aloud selections on ballots violates” state law, under which the public release of early voting results before polls close to in-person voting on Nov. 8 is prohibited.
“Therefore, observers may not be positioned so as to become privy to the ballot selections and room tallies,” the court wrote. “The specifics of the hand-count process and observer positioning so as not to violate this mandate is for respondents and the Nevada Secretary of State to determine.”
ACLU Hails Win
The court did not specifically order a halt to the recount but its opinion appeared to side with arguments made by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada (ACLU) in an earlier motion in which the organization sought to block the hand count from going ahead, citing concerns over the election results being made public before election day.
Following the court’s three-page opinion, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, who is in charge of elections, ordered that the hand count of ballots stop immediately. Cegavske also asked Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf to confirm to her office Thursday night that the hand count process had ended.
ACLU said in a statement that Nye County’s attorneys had informed the organization’s legal staff that the hand count process had been stopped. Sadmira Ramic, ALCU of Nevada’s voting rights attorney, called the end to the hand count a “victory for all who believe in democracy.”
The Epoch Times has contacted Cegavske’s office for comment.
Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf announced back in September plans to hand count ballots cast in the county, which is home to more than 33,000 people, alongside electronic voting machines.
The pause to Nye County’s hand ballot comes after The Cochise County Board of Supervisors in southeastern Arizona voted 2–1 on Monday to count ballots cast in next month’s elections by hand.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
From The Epoch Times