Senate candidate Adam Laxalt says he's already preparing to fight voter fraud

We have an article tonight from our colleague Nick Corasaniti, who reports how a Republican candidate for the Nevada Senate anticipated ...


We have an article tonight from our colleague Nick Corasaniti, who reports how a Republican candidate for the Nevada Senate anticipated a fight against voter fraud in November.

Nevadans still have 231 days until they go to the polls in November. But Adam Laxalt, the former Nevada attorney general and Republican Senate nominee, is already laying detailed groundwork to tackle voter fraud in his race — long before a single vote has been cast or counted.

In conversations with voters at an event at his campaign headquarters this month, Laxalt explained how he is looking at outside groups to help him establish election observation teams and develop a litigation strategy.

“I’m not talking about it, but we’re looking at which group we think is going to do better,” Laxalt told one attendee, according to an audio recording obtained by The New York Times from a person who attended the event. and opposes Laxalt’s candidacy.

At the event, Laxalt criticized the Trump 2020 campaign and outside groups for their handling of voter fraud allegations, saying they went on the offensive too late. “In 2020, it was nothing,” he said, according to the audio recording. “And then the campaign was late and the party was late. So it’s just different now. There are many groups that say there is electoral fraud.

And if he was unable to find help, Laxalt promised his campaign would bear the cost of hiring lawyers and strategizing, even at the expense of other grassroots programs needed to run a campaign.

“If I come in July and I’m like, ‘God, nobody’s going to do this right,’ we’ll be paying out of our campaign, which means less contact with voters for the reason you’ve stated,” said Laxalt to a participant. “If someone is not going to do it, we have to do it. And I’m ready to lose on the other side because we’re going to take it away.

Of course, there was no widespread fraud in Nevada’s 2020 presidential election, or anywhere else in the country, as numerous audits, recounts, legal challenges, and investigations have confirmed. The Nevada Secretary of State has spent more than 125 hours of investigation into the allegations brought by the Nevada Republican Party and found no widespread fraud. And there has been no evidence ahead of this year’s election of any fraud in the state.

But Laxalt’s pledge is another indication of the vitality of the specter of voter fraud for the Republican base, an issue deemed so critical that a statewide candidate would be willing to sacrifice one of the tasks. most critical campaign steps to ensure a litigation avenue was in place, months before any actual vote.

Asked about the comments, Laxalt reiterated his criticism of the 2020 election, especially in Clark County, home to Las Vegas and the majority of Democratic voters in the state.

“Every voter deserves more transparency and to have confidence in the accuracy of their election results, and I will proudly fight for them,” Laxalt said in a statement.

A court decision against the Trump campaign in 2020 found no evidence “that the 2020 general election in Nevada was affected by fraud”, both in Clark County and statewide.

Laxalt, who was one of the leaders of the Trump campaign’s effort to nullify the results in Nevada, has previously said voter fraud is the “the biggest problem” of the campaign and has spoken publicly about creating a large force of election observers and intending to file election lawsuits early.

“With me at the top of the ticket, we’re going to be able to get everyone around the table and come up with a comprehensive plan, do our best to try and secure this election, get as many observers as possible, and file lawsuits early, s ‘there are lawsuits, we can sue to try to tighten the election’, Laxalt said in August in an interview with Wayne Allyn Root, a conservative radio host.

Laxalt’s legal strategy foreshadows a likely new ongoing battleground for political campaigns: post-election court battles.

While election-related lawsuits have long been common in American politics, traditional fights have often centered on polling times and locations or last-minute policy changes to voting rules. But in 2020, the Trump campaign dramatically changed the legal landscape, filing 60 cases after Election Day. The campaign lost 59 of them. The only case won by the campaign involved challenging a state-ordered extension of time in Pennsylvania for submitting ID for mail-in ballots.

Despite this losing record, Republican candidates like Laxalt appear poised to repeat Trump’s legal strategy of attempting to overturn an election in court, even months before there was a vote or theoretical electoral fraud. Experts note that while these legal strategies are likely doomed to failure in courtrooms, they risk further eroding public trust.

“At the end of the day, it’s not just about the court, it’s about the court of public opinion, and seeing how dangerous these lies about our elections can be,” said Joanna Lydgate, who is a former assistant district attorney. Massachusetts general and co-founder of the United States United Democracy Center. “We saw the violence on Capitol Hill on January 6. We see these same lies popping up on the campaign trail across the country.”

In conversations with voters, Laxalt reiterated that he wanted to build a broad coalition to fight fraud as part of a “formal program” and expected help from the Republican Party leadership and “Senate committee.” , a reference to the Republican National Senate Committee. . He also referred to a group featuring Mark Meadows, Donald Trump’s former chief of staff, although the title of the group is inaudible.

Attendees at the event seemed to support Laxalt’s plans, and he was sure to mention its most prominent endorser.

“I was just at Mar-a-Lago last week with the president,” Laxalt said, referring to Trump. “And the president was like, all over the place, voter fraud again, obviously.”

Republicans have made their strategy for Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings painfully clear: a tour of grievance politics that has criticized Democrats for transgressions spanning decades.

For the Democrats, however, there was also a political strategy. It just wasn’t as strong.

As Democrats try to defuse allegations that they are anti-law enforcement, an attack some party leaders blame for House losses in 2020, they have fully backed police ahead of midterms. It is an essential line of defense that Democrats prepared before the hearings and another way to discredit a line of attack that could harm the party in future elections.

Rep. Val Demings of Florida highlighted her role as the head of the Orlando Police Department in her run for the Senate. President Biden called for defunding the police in his State of the Union address. And Biden’s nominee spoke at length today about her family members in law enforcement, often in response to questions from senators.

Jackson has two uncles and a brother who served in law enforcement, noted Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat of Vermont.

“How do you respond to people who say you’re soft on crime, or even on law enforcement, because you’ve accepted your duties as a public defender?” asked Lea.

“Crime and community effects and the need for law enforcement are not abstract concepts or political slogans to me,” Jackson replied.

Thanks for reading. Well see you tomorrow.

— Blake and Lea

Is there anything you think we’re missing? Something you want to see more? We would love to hear from you. Email us at onpolitics@nytimes.com.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Senate candidate Adam Laxalt says he's already preparing to fight voter fraud
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