US elections: On the front line of Nevada’s must-win battle for Trump

“What’s happening in Wisconsin and Michigan is Democrats faking it until they make it – just look at Pennsylvania,” said a Trump volunteer in Nevada who asked to withhold their name.

Supporters of US President Donald Trump, hold American flags during a "Stop the Steal" protest at the Clark County Election Center in North Las Vegas, Nevada, US November 4, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/STEVE MARCUS)
Supporters of US President Donald Trump, hold American flags during a "Stop the Steal" protest at the Clark County Election Center in North Las Vegas, Nevada, US November 4, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/STEVE MARCUS)
Volunteers for the Trump campaign in Nevada have been up until the early hours of the morning, catching a few hours of sleep, and then back in the trenches of what they see as a key fight that could keep the White House in the hands of the president.
Based on an interview with one of the volunteers and public details from the campaign, it is possible to reconstruct the key forty-eight hours of Election Day and the day after, as people scrambled to see if Nevada’s results could be disputed.
By midnight on November 4, US Democratic Presidential candidate Joe Biden was estimated to have 253 electoral college votes, making him closer to the 270 needed to win. The Trump campaign had sent Eric Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani down to Pennsylvania to hold the line there, where Trump had been up by hundreds of thousands of votes.
North Carolina, Georgia, Alaska, Nevada and Arizona results appeared outstanding on Thursday morning. Alaska appeared sure to go or Trump. The closest results were in Nevada, where Biden was up by 8,000 votes with 588,252 against 580,605 for Trump.  
Trump campaign volunteers knew there was a problem weeks ago. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, had signed Assembly Bill 4 back on August 3. For Democrats who backed the bill it was supposed to protect Nevadans during Covid-19 and enable them to vote.
The Trump campaign filed suit to challenge the bill days later, arguing that the change in rules that enabled ballots to be sent to everyone in the state, might also let people vote twice. The Trump campaign in Nevada was concerned it could also mean “ballot harvesting.” There were also concerns about the United States Postal Service and its ability to handle the volume of ballots.  

"WHAT'S HAPPENING in Wisconsin and Michigan is Democrats faking it until they make it – just look at Pennsylvania,” said a Trump volunteer in Nevada who asked us to withhold their name. The interview reflects a change in tone in the Trump camp between the morning of Election Day on Tuesday November 3 to Wednesday. This is because on Tuesday evening, it looked like Trump had a clear path to victory, having won Florida.
Florida was the infamous state of recounts when George W. Bush had to go to court to stop counts in 2000 and ended up winning by a tiny number of votes. However, the Trump campaign sensed problems in the evening on Tuesday as Fox News called Arizona for Biden. Wisconsin and Michigan also looked like they might be leaning for Trump. Twenty-four hours later, Biden was winning the states as votes were counted.
“What happened to the Biden lead in the polls?” asked the volunteer. He said that the ecosystem the US has relied on for the election is flawed. Polls are wrong and voting could be fraudulent. Trump staffers in Nevada’s Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, had a frontline view of the problems, they say. “The eyes of the world are on Nevada today.” The volunteer said that they believe the county registrar is to blame for the problems.
This includes misrepresenting the schedule of activities of securing ballots and tabulating them. “There are instances where observers were told to go home and then ballots were counted.” The registrar told the media that they wouldn’t have a final count until Thursday. Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria was interrupted during his press conference on Wednesday by a protester wearing a “BBQ, Beer, Freedom” shirt who said who that the “Biden crime family” was stealing the election.  
The Trump campaign volunteer, one of 1,400 in the state for the campaign, said that it’s important for observers to have eyes on the vote counters. However, observers have been kept in separate rooms behind several layers of glass, and cannot see the tabulation or know whether to challenge what is going on. There is a lack of transparency, a narrative the Trump campaign has been pushing since Wednesday morning. “There is less transparency than in foreign countries,” the volunteer says.  
Having gone to bed at 4 a.m. on Tuesday, the volunteer was up the next day, rushing around. “Last night it looked like a healthy lead for Trump but it has been nickel-and-dimed away. The reason for this is that mail-in ballots are coming in that are around 80% for Biden in some places. This is because different parties told their supporters to either vote in person or by mail.

THE CONCERN in the Trump camp is that ballots that were not mailed by Election Day will still be counted. How could this happen? “This is an unconstitutional extension of the election. Prepaid postage of business mail doesn’t get a postmark, but it needs to be delivered by Election Day. In some places they wanted 10 days or more for the ballot to arrive, but what if people mail it in and it arrives today by 5 p.m.? So one can mail a ballot today or tomorrow, or even 5,000 ballots, and they have no postmark  – and they have no way of knowing.”  
This is where the Trump campaign on Wednesday began saying that they wanted votes counted, but only “legal” and “legitimate” votes, a shift in tone from Tuesday night when Trump had appeared to indicate he wanted vote counting to stop. What worries volunteers in Nevada who support Trump is that if someone mails a ballot on November 4, it could arrive within 24 hours, and appear as if it had been sent on Election Day, November 3. There is lack of clarity on this, but that is the concern that Trump supporters have been telling media in other states.  
“It’s absurd. Think of this scenario: So we had no ability to monitor what is going on in the postal service. I spoke to several postal couriers, and they said one area of vulnerability is ballots that are undeliverable or return-to-sender,” the volunteer says. The allegation is that undelivered ballots might be left in a hamper and then taken and filled out by someone else.
The check and balance that is supposed to prevent this is the need to match signatures on the ballot. But the volunteer says that the signature-check machine has reduced its need to be accurate by only 40%, meaning signatures that are not exact are getting through. The volunteer claims that even if the ballot is discounted due to signature issues, a second review is done and the ballot is generally approved. This could happen with thousands of ballots, the volunteer says.
That would take planning. How would people know to shift these votes in Clark County and not some other place? The volunteer says that Democrats were likely so confident in their lead in the polls that the threat of fraud is unlikely. This leaves a lack of clarity between the narrative of fraud and the unlikely reality of fraud on the ground.
Nevertheless, the Trump campaign has long believed that Nevada would be crucial. Its Washoe Country office in Reno was one of the first reelection offices staffed in the country, the volunteer says.

THE TRUMP campaign has received hundreds of reports of problems at various polling locations. There is a belief that Trump still has a path to victory and there is a desire to contest Nevada and Arizona. In Wisconsin, the vote appears within one percent which could lead to a recount. In Michigan there are still some Republican votes to be counted. Pennsylvania could hold for Trump. Arizona may also have more Trump votes as the finals are counted.  
Nevada will continue to be in the spotlight. According to reports at Law.com, the Trump campaign there has tapped Jesse Binnal, who was on the defense team of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, seeking for the Nevada Supreme Court to stop the counting of some mail-in ballots. 
The scramble for a few votes is now what matters for both sides. It doesn’t seem clear how the Trump campaign can make up 7,000 votes that they are down in Nevada. This isn’t a few votes like in Florida in 2000. Nevertheless, Trump's Nevada campaign co-chairman Adam Laxalt, a former attorney-general in the state, told Fox News on Wednesday that Democrats had stacked the deck against Republicans. He reiterated that Republican observers could not watch the signature matching process and that vote dumps were being counted in the middle of the night.  
Almost 400,000 votes were cast with no observation or transparency, he asserted. The US now enters an uncertain period as Republicans are claiming fraud and arguing that the election counting procedures are not foolproof. Legal challenges will follow. Lack of Republican access to counting is a center-point of those challenges. With the Trump campaign's thousands of poll observers reporting many incidents in which they were prevented from observing, this will be the foundation of a battle to try to hold the line for the president.