RENO, Nevada (AP) — Nevada's primary on Tuesday will determine whether a former state lawmaker who has been traveling the country repeating the false claims that the 2020 presidential election was stolen will become the Republican Party's nominee for the office that oversees elections in the state.
Jim Marchant has been active in efforts to cast doubt on the last election, when he lost his bid for a congressional seat. He has appeared at various events with allies of former President Donald Trump, including MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who has sought to prove that voting machines were somehow manipulated. There is no evidence of widespread fraud or conspiracy to steal the 2020 election, which Trump lost to President Joe Biden.
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An Associated Press investigation last year found that county election offices in Nevada had identified between 93 and 98 potential cases of voter fraud, representing less than 0.3% of Biden’s margin of victory in the state.
Marchant is one of several Republicans across the country running to oversee the next presidential election while denying the outcome of the last one. In February, he told a crowd gathered for a candidates forum that their vote “hasn't counted for decades.”
Another leading candidate, businessman and former state lawmaker Jesse Haw, has accused Democrats of changing voting rules to manipulate the system and called for voter ID requirements and new restrictions on mail ballots.
Nevada is a pivotal state for Republicans as they look to win a majority in the U.S. Senate. Although Trump lost Nevada in the 2016 and 2020 elections, he remains a popular figure among Republicans in the state.
In April 2021, Nevada’s Republican Party voted to censure the current secretary of state, Barbara Cegavske, accusing her of failing to fully investigate allegations of fraud in the 2020 election. Cegavske has said repeatedly that she found no evidence of widespread voter fraud. Term limits bar her from seeking re-election.
Cisco Aguilar, a lawyer and former chair of the Nevada Athletic Commission, is running unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Voters also will be deciding between a pair of Las Vegas lawyers in the Republican primary for state attorney general. That race, featuring Tisha Black and Sigal Chattah, has focused more on personal attacks than concerns of voter fraud.
The winner will face Democratic incumbent Aaron Ford in November.
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Along with holding events across the country, Marchant helped organize the “America First Secretary of State Coalition,” a group of candidates running to be their state's top election official who have repeated Trump's false claims about the 2020 election.
Marchant also has been working to persuade local officials to toss out voting equipment and instead require that all ballots be cast and counted by hand.
Hand-counting all ballots is not only unreliable, labor-intensive and time-consuming, but also unnecessary, according to election experts. Testing before elections and audits afterward are intended to ensure that votes are recorded accurately and that any problems are identified before election results are certified.
The other GOP candidates are: Sparks City Councilman Kristopher Dahir; John Cardiff Gerhardt; Socorro Keenan; Gerard Ramalho; and Richard Scotti.
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Nationally, nearly two dozen Republican candidates are running to be their state’s top election official while denying the result of the 2020 presidential election, according to States United Action, a nonpartisan advocacy organization tracking the candidates.
Among those are Kristina Karamo in Michigan and Kim Crockett in Minnesota, who are favorites to win their primaries in August, and Audrey Trujillo in New Mexico, who has advanced to the general election.
Last month, Georgia’s Jody Hice lost his bid to oust Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in that state’s GOP primary despite having Trump’s endorsement. Raffensperger drew Trump’s ire after he refused the former president’s request to “find” enough votes to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia.
The federal government's leading security experts declared the 2020 presidential election “the most secure in American history,” while Trump’s attorney general at the time said there was no fraud that would have altered the results. There has been no evidence to suggest Trump was cheated out of a second term.