Donald Trump’s campaign filed a lawsuit arguing that voting hours in parts of Nevada were improperly extended during early voting, the clearest signal yet that the Republican nominee could be looking to contest the results of Tuesday’s election should he lose.
The lawsuit was filed against Joseph P. Gloria, the Clark County registrar, who is responsible for voting in Nevada’s biggest county. In the filing, Trump’s campaign argues that polls were kept open late last Friday “to help Hillary Clinton,” his Democratic opponent.
In a statement released after the lawsuit was filed, Clark County officials noted that the lawsuit asks them to preserve early voting records, something that “is required by state law, and so it is something we are already doing.”
The lawsuit states that the Trump campaign is seeking to have the county set aside voting machines and ballots associated with the early voting last Friday and to keep them separate from other votes “in the event of post-election challenges.” The filing appeared to imply that these votes should be set aside from the others cast in the state, which could wind up being decided by a razor-thin margin.
Voters in line when the polls are set to close in Nevada are allowed to remain until they have cast ballots, according to state law. The Trump campaign’s lawsuit mentions this law, saying that “the voters physically standing in line at 8 p.m. were inarguably entitled to vote,” but adding that the doors should have been closed to other voters.
“On Friday, most if not all of our early voting locations had lines of voters when their scheduled closing time passed,” Dan Kulin, a spokesman for Clark County, said in an email. “As has been our practice for many, many years those early voting locations continued processing voters until the lines were gone.”
During a hearing Tuesday morning in Clark County, a skeptical judge questioned the Trump campaign’s attorney about the filing and ultimately denied the campaign’s request to preserve evidence in the case.
The judge said that she believed the campaign’s filing was essentially seeking to identify poll workers, which she believed would lead to these volunteers being harassed.
Clark County election officials said that voting machines cannot be separated and sequestered, as requested, because they are already in use again. And they also said early-voting ballots could not be commingled because they are intentionally mixed in with other ballots to preserve the secrecy.
The judge also expressed alarm that the Trump campaign’s filing could be used to try to identify voters, something the Trump campaign denied.