The Trump campaign lost its first step to challenge the election results in Nevada, a hotly contested battleground state.
In a legal action filed Monday, the campaign accused the Clark County registrar of keeping an early voting location open for two extra hours to aid Democratic turnout. Clark County Judge Gloria J. Sturman said at a hearing today that the campaign failed to take up its problems with county officials before coming to court.
The complaint alleges a polling location in the county that was scheduled to close at 8 p.m. on Nov. 4 stayed open to accommodate everyone who got in line until 10 p.m. The Republican poll watcher said the extension allowed 150 to 300 people to join the line, according to court documents.
The challenge also accused Democrats of distributing literature within the 100-foot no-campaigning zone.
“The incidents that occurred on Friday night should be troubling to anyone who is interested in free and fair elections,” the campaign’s Nevada state director, Charles Muñoz, said in a statement.
After complaining to the state official overseeing elections, the Trump campaign is seeking an emergency order to set aside the ballots and voting machines from four early-voting locations so that they can be adjudicated after the election. But Judge Sturman denied that request because the campaign hadn’t tried to work out a solution with the county registrar.
“There’s been a failure to exhaust administrative remedies,” she said at the hearing, which was broadcast over the internet. “I am reluctant to impose any obligation by court order on our registrar of voters, who is a very busy man and does an excellent job for all of us.”
In a statement on Twitter responding to the lawsuit, Clark County said it is already preserving early voting records, as required by state law.
Clinton’s campaign applauded the judge’s move. “We’re pleased the judge swiftly denied what was a frivolous attempt to disenfranchise voters in Clark County and a desperate response to the record turnout we’re seeing in Nevada and across the country,” said spokesman Glen Caplin. “Every voice needs to be heard in this election and both campaigns should be working to ensure that every American will have easy access to the ballot box.”
Recent polls showed Hillary Clinton tied or with a slight edge in Nevada, but strong Latino turnout in early voting data led the state’s most prominent political reporter, Jon Ralston, to conclude Trump would probably lose the state. Trump has repeatedly called the election “rigged” and said he would accept the results “if I win.”
“They felt it was a pretty bad situation,” Trump said of his representatives in Nevada in an interview on Fox News before the hearing. “And they brought a lawsuit and it sounded like a good one to me. … We have to keep the system honest, we have a very, very serious situation with the whole process. I have been talking about the rigged system for a long time. In many ways it is a rigged system. … We’ll go to the judges when we have to.”
Diana Orrock, the Republican National Committeewoman for Nevada and a vocal Trump ally, said she was unaware of the lawsuit before POLITICO contacted her.
“I know that the [Clark County] registrar was on TV this morning saying that anybody who’s in line was allowed to participate in the voting process until all of them came through,” she said. “If that’s what they did, I don’t have a problem with that … I don’t know that filing a suit’s going to accomplish anything.”
But Orrock did wonder why the sudden rush to vote early came in the closing hours of the final day. “We have two weeks of early voting and the fact that there’s a rush with a bunch of people right before closing on the last day of early voting, looks suspicious to anybody under normal circumstances,” she said.
Kyle Cheney and Victoria Guida contributed to this report.
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