Trump campaign sues in Nevada to stop Vegas-area vote count

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FILE - In this June 9, 2020 file photo election workers process mail-in ballots during a nearly all-mail primary election in Las Vegas. The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans want a state judge to stop the counting of Las Vegas-area mail-in ballots, alleging that "meaningful observation" of signature-checking is impossible in the state's biggest and most Democratic-leaning county. The lawsuit filed 10 days before the Nov. 3 election alleges the local elections chief failed to get proper approval in April from the Secretary of State for the vote plan. (AP Photo/John Locher,File)

LAS VEGAS – The Trump campaign and Nevada Republicans asked a state judge on Friday to stop the count of Las Vegas-area mail-in ballots, alleging that “meaningful observation” of signature-checking is impossible in the state’s biggest and most Democratic-leaning county.

A lawsuit filed in state court less than two weeks before the Nov. 3 election complains that observers haven't been allowed close enough to workers and machines at the busy vote-counting center to see whether ballots that get second- and third-step validation should be rejected.

Judge James Wilson in Carson City declined to issue an immediate order to stop the count, but scheduled a hearing next Wednesday on the request.

The battle is the latest among court skirmishes across the U.S. amid President Donald Trump's doubts about issues including voter registration, voter rolls and mail-in ballot deadlines prompted by the pandemic.

“There has been great concern whether the rolls are clean and properly registered voters are the ones receiving ballots, signing them and mailing them back,” Trump for President Nevada co-chairman Adam Laxalt said. “All we want is to be part of the signature verification process and the ability to challenge a mail-in signature.”

Laxalt invoked memories of the legal battle over the 2000 presidential election, which was ultimately decided in mid-December by the Supreme Court in Bush v. Gore.

But vote-by-mail “was not really an issue until someone started tweeting about it in a presidential year,” said Amber McReynolds, head of the nonprofit National Vote At Home Institute, which advocates expanded mail balloting.

Trump has repeatedly taken to Twitter to sow doubt about widespread use of mailed ballots, suggesting that it encourages fraud.