More case background on the first court case regarding Nye County’s hand-count can be found here.
On October 17, 2022, the Brennan Center assisted the ACLU-Nevada in seeking an emergency writ of mandamus to enjoin Nye County and Mark Kampf, the interim county clerk, from conducting a parallel hand count of ballots before the close of polls on election day, and from implementing other harmful features of his plan.
On October 21, 2022, the Nevada Supreme Court issued an emergency writ of mandamus against Nye County, restricting the county from carrying out part of Kampf’s proposed hand count plan, including by forbidding it from livestreaming the reading aloud of hand-counted ballots prior to the close of polls. The Court ordered the county to ensure that “public observers do not prematurely learn any election results.”
Despite the Court’s order, Nye County moved forward with a public hand-count on October 26, 2022, absent of any approval from either the Secretary of State’s office or the Court of the county’s revised proposal. Not only was this public count unlawfully taking place prior to the close of polls on Election Day, but it also proved to be alarmingly error-prone.
On Thursday, October 27, 2022, ACLU Nevada moved for clarification that Nye County’s vote-counting process violated the Court’s issued order. The Court granted the motion. Nevada Secretary of State, Barbara Cegavske, halted the hand count immediately.
Determined to move forward with its hand-count, Nye County submitted a revised procedure to the Secretary of State to restart after the election, which the Secretary rejected, on November 4, 2022, due to remaining “concerns relating to the integrity of the election.”
On November 7, 2022, Brennan Center for Justice, ACLU of Nevada, and All Voting is Local, Nevada wrote a letter to the Secretary urging her to make clear that not only is it too late to seek approval for any hand count process that begins prior to statewide certification of all contests on Nye County ballots, but Kampf’s hand-count also compromises ballot security and violates Nevada voters’ rights to fair and accurate elections.
Following the November 8, 2022 General Election, Nye County began tabulating results electronically using machines in order to report results to the secretary of state’s office. However, Kampf pursued a “parallel” hand-count of all paper ballots to audit the machine tabulated results. Kampf sent out an email calling for volunteers to join the process in hand-counting all ballots ahead of a Nov. 17 deadline, even inviting volunteers to show up without having undergone training.
The hand-count officially resumed on Thursday, November 10, 2022, at Nye County’s Valley Conference Center. The first day of the hand-count procedure—that Kampf referred to as an “experiment and “test” — proved to be error-prone and time-consuming, much like the county’s first attempt at implementing this manual procedure. Kampf admitted that the error rate was “very, very high,” at an estimated 25%, with ballots having to go through multiple recounts to address inaccuracies.