NEW YORK ― As voters went to the polls on Tuesday, a judge shot down a legal action that Donald Trump and his campaign filed against Nevada’s Clark County alleging that certain early voting sites were kept open illegally.
Early voting in Nevada saw huge turnouts over the weekend, particularly among Latinos, leading to complaints by one state GOP official that the polls were kept open so “certain groups” had more time to vote.
Under Nevada law, poll workers must keep polling sites open if there are registered voters waiting in line at the time the polls close. But the Trump campaign claimed in state court that the Clark County registrar illegally closed and reopened the polls to make room for latecomers.
The quick-moving legal action was considered at a hearing shortly after it was filed, but the judge assigned to the case was deeply skeptical of what the Trump campaign was seeking to accomplish.
“Is this action, is this petition ... premature?” asked Gloria Sturman, a state judge on the 8th District Court in Nevada.
“We need to preserve evidence, your honor, and the party that has that evidence is Clark County,” said Brian Hardy, the lawyer for the Trump campaign.
“I’m just really puzzled by how you think you’re going to use this evidence anyway to assist the secretary of state” to investigate potential election violations, Sturman replied.
When Hardy suggested that he wanted the judge to help the campaign preserve poll data ― to “sequester ballots,” in her words ― she seemed offended.
“That’s offensive to me, because it seems to me to go against the principle that the vote is secret,” she said.
Sturman also had serious issues about disclosing poll worker information, which could have been made public if the judge granted the campaign’s request to preserve evidence. She pointed out that Trump supporters ― like the kind that roam around on Twitter ― might use the information to subject civil servants to “public intimidation, ridicule and harassment.”
“It’s disturbing to me that some of these individuals might be harassed,” she said.
Trump’s lawyer insisted that there would be no harassment of poll workers, but the judge wasn’t buying it.
“How can you tell me that?” she asked. “Do you watch Twitter? Have you watched any cable news show?”
“I’m not going to issue any order,” Sturman said later in the hearing, adding that she’ll let the administrative process run its course.
The Trump campaign said it filed a complaint with the Nevada secretary of state ahead of Tuesday’s civil action over the same allegations, but the judge indicated the campaign may have jumped the gun. She added that it was the secretary of state’s call to decide the next steps in this action.
Over the course of the presidential campaign, Trump has lamented, without proof, that the election will be “rigged” or stolen from him. This latest move in Nevada seems designed to give him something to complain about if he loses on Tuesday.
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.