Donald Trump filed a lawsuit against a Nevada county for keeping early voting open past closing time. Early voting in Clark County was set to close at 7 p.m. last Friday, but voters were reportedly casting ballots as late as 10:00 p.m. According to local officials, as long as voters were in line when polls closed, they were permitted to vote. The Trump campaign argued in its suit, filed the day before the general election, that voters who were not in line at closing time in certain early voting polling places were nonetheless allowed to cast their ballots.
The suit may be one of many the Trump legal team is preparing, to lay the groundwork for additional challenges to the outcome of the presidential election. The candidate has repeatedly hinted that he may not accept the results.
In court filings in the Nevada case, the campaign asked for an order segregating the early votes from other votes, to preserve their right to challenge the ballot count. According to Nevada officials, this was already being done in order to comply with state law. After a hearing today, the judge in the case refused to issue an immediate order preserving ballots and voting machines, noting that preservation of voting evidence is already required, and because the Trump campaign had not exhausted its administrative remedies prior to filing suit.
Charles Munoz, Trump’s campaign director for the state of Nevada, accused Clark County officials of allowing some who arrived after polls closed to vote, while in other locations, no late voting was permitted. Michael McDonald, Nevada’s Republican Party chairman, said that the polls were kept open late so a “certain group” could vote. Clark County, partially composed of suburbs of Las Vegas, has a large Latino population. The polling places in question are in areas largely populated by minorities—a Mexican market is located just blocks from one location.
The margin in the most recent polls in Nevada is razor-thin. Just a few thousand Nevada votes could determine the outcome in the presidential election. If Trump prevails in the states where he is currently leading in the polls, and picks up victories in toss-ups Florida, North Carolina, and New Hampshire, a Nevada win would put him over the edge in the electoral college, giving him the presidency.
During the third and final presidential debate with opponent Hillary Clinton, Trump would not say whether he would accept the results of the election. When asked today whether he would comply with the outcome, Trump responded by saying “We’re going to see how things play out.” The Trump legal team appears to be putting its muscle behind the campaign’s hints, gearing up for a legal challenge before even the earliest election returns.
While the campaign’s request for an emergency order was denied, this is not the end of the case. And it could be just the beginning for the Trump campaign, in mounting challenges to the anticipated outcome. While voters may be eagerly awaiting the end of the bruising 2016 presidential campaign, election day may be just the beginning of a long legal battle.