All Politics is Local

Local GOP election observers too busy to make sure election isn’t rigged

The sign-in sheet for GOP election observers

The sign-in sheet for GOP election observers

Clark County voters mostly sat out last week’s primary election with only about 20 percent of registered voters bothering to turn in their ballots.

And when it came to making sure those ballots were counted properly, one political party was completely absent.

Every election, Clark County Elections invites trained and certified observers from both political parties to watch as ballots are counted and make sure everything is done properly. During last year’s general election, both parties reported increased interest in observing elections, possibly because of a claim from Donald Trump, then a Republican presidential contender, that the vote would be rigged.

But nobody from the local Republican Party showed up to monitor this year’s primary election, according to records obtained through a public records request. Observers from the local Democratic Party filled up nearly two sign-in sheets, according to records. Non-partisan observers from League of Women Voters filled up about one and a half sheets. But the sheet for the Republican Party was blank.

In a Facebook message, David Gellatly, chair of the Clark County Republican Party, confirmed that the sheet is accurate. He explained that because only trained and certified volunteers are allowed to observe it limits the pool of people they can send. He chalked up the absence of volunteers from the party to the race being non-partisan and occurring in an off-year in the middle of summer. He also noted that the party sent out an email to potential observers late and no one ended up volunteering.

However, he wrote that it is “disappointing.”

“I don’t think we have any local distrust in the process, and with the list of reasons above it seems to be fair reasons for hard working Republicans and the schedules that comes with that,” he wrote. “I am sure we will see increased.”

Rich Rogers, chair of the Clark County Democratic Party, said that he thinks there is more interest in his party in learning how elections work. He added that his party sees election observation as a voter education opportunity.

“I’m a little mystified,” he said. “It’s usually the Republican Party that’s on the forefront of claiming there’s fraud and then they don’t show up to observe.”

Republican Clark County Auditor Greg Kimsey, who oversees elections, wrote in an email that the more knowledgeable people are about elections the greater confidence they will have in them.

“Every election is important,” he wrote. “We hope Clark County Republican Party Election Observers will have a greater presence in the future.”

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