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Fact check: Voter fraud claims in Nevada based on failed lawsuit

Fact check: Voter fraud claims in Nevada based on failed lawsuit
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The claim: Nevada’s presidential election included duplicate voting, dead voters, fake addresses, noncitizens voting and out of state voters

Even after Joe Biden was sworn in on Jan. 20 as the nation’s 46th president, many conspiracy theorists and social media users have continued to promote baseless claims of widespread election fraud to argue that the election was stolen. 

As some of former President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters hang on to false claims surrounding the 2020 election, a viral social media post of alleged statistics based on a failed lawsuit has surfaced and suggests that voter fraud tilted Nevada’s six electoral votes to Biden. 

A Feb. 2 Facebook post includes a screenshot with a list of various claims about Nevada’s election: 42,000 people voted more than once; 19,000 didn’t live in Nevada; 15,000 votes were cast from a commercial address; 8,000 voted using a non-existent address; 4,000 ineligible noncitizens voted; and 1,500 dead people voted. 

In a Facebook comment, the author of the post points to a Dec. 2 article from the Washington Examiner regarding a previous lawsuit from the Trump campaign that attempted to overturn the election results in Nevada. The same article was shared to Facebook on Dec. 3 by Trump.

The article’s headline reads, “Nevada ‘fraud’: 1,500 ‘dead’ voters, 42,248 voted ‘multiple times,’ RV camps as ‘homes.'”

USA TODAY reached out to the Facebook user for further comment. 

All the figures in the claim stem from allegations made in December by a Trump campaign lawyer who unsuccessfully attempted to challenge the certification of Nevada’s 2020 election. We’ll assess each claim in detail. 

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Claim: 42,000 Nevadans voted more than once

The claim that 42,000 people voted more than once in Nevada is false. The allegation originates from testimony before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee presented by Trump campaign attorney Jesse Binnall.

The evidence for Binnall’s claims was not shown publicly and was partially obtained through Department of Motor Vehicle records, according to 8 News now. 

Derek T. Muller, a professor at the University of Iowa College of Law, analyzed the origins of Binnall’s 42,000 figure and found that the claim stemmed from a report by the Republican National Committee’s chief data officer, Jesse Kamzol. The report lacked overall methodology and underlying data. 

Carson City District Judge James Russell ruled against the Trump campaign’s request to block the certification of Nevada’s presidential election results in early December. 

The court concluded that the Kamzol’s data was not credible, and Russell wrote that his methodology “had little to no information about or supervision over the origins of his data, the manner in which it had been matched, and what the rate of false positives would be. Additionally, there was little or no verification of his numbers.” 

In the 35-page order, Russell also wrote that “the record does not support a finding that any Nevada voter voted twice.” 

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Claim: 19,000 voters didn’t live in Nevada

Similar to the social media post, Binnall also claimed in his testimony that 19,000 people voted even though they did not live in Nevada, not including military voters or students. He wrote that the voters were identified by comparing lists of voters with the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address database. 

In regards to the allegation that out-of-state residents voted in Nevada, Russell wrote there is no evidence to “support a finding that election officials counted mail ballots from voters who also voted in other states.”

A case used to support this claim included a person seeing voters arriving to vote with out-of-state license plates. However, Russell wrote that this was not evidence proving that those voters were not eligible to vote in Nevada, or that the voter had also cast a ballot in a different state.

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Claim: 15,000 votes cast from commercial addresses; 8,000 from nonexistent addresses

Claims that Nevada voters were registered at commercial addresses and nonexistent addresses are false and again originate from Binnall’s testimony in the Trump campaign’s case.

Binnall claimed that experts purportedly found 15,000 votes cast from commercial or vacant addresses by analyzing U.S. Postal Service records that flag nonresidential addresses and addresses vacant for more than 90 days. The 8,000 voters with nonexistent addresses were allegedly found by cross referencing voters with the Coding Accuracy Support System. 

However, the court found no evidence to support claims that “election officials counted ballots from voters who did not meet Nevada residency requirements.”

In his ruling, Russell further wrote that the Postal Service did not deliver mail-in ballots to “addresses where the addressee of the ballot was known to be deceased, known to have moved from that address, or had no affiliation with that address at all.”

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Claim: 4,000 noncitizens voted

Binnall’s claim that almost 4,000 noncitizens voted was purportedly found by comparing official DMV records of noncitizens to 2020 voter rolls. 

DMV spokesman Kevin Malone told the Nevada Independent that it provided the Trump campaign with a list of the names and addresses of people who obtained a driver’s license or driver authorization card using immigration paperwork within the last five years.

However, Malone said the list provided was not definitive proof of citizenship or noncitizenship because individuals could obtain citizenship and legally vote after obtaining a driver authorization card. 

Michael Kagan, director of the UNLV Immigration Clinic, also noted to the Nevada Independent that “someone might have been a noncitizen three years ago when they got their driver’s license, and they then got citizenship, voted legally, and haven’t renewed their license with a new document yet.”

The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office “Facts vs. Myths” page addresses this claim as well and states that it is a felony for noncitizens to register to vote or cast a ballot in Nevada and as of Dec. 18 the office has “not been presented with evidence of noncitizens voting in the 2020 election.” 

USA TODAY has also previously debunked claims that voter turnout from noncitizens affected the popular vote in the 2020 presidential race in battleground states. 

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Claim: 1,500 dead people voted 

Binnall’s claim that dead people voted in Nevada’s presidential election has been repeatedly debunked by election officials.

The district court said this claim was unfounded based on Nevada Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley’s testimony on the process to “maintain voter rolls, including removing confirmed deceased voters.” 

USA TODAY has debunked a similar claim that thousands of ballots were sent to dead people and pets in Nevada. Multiple experts and studies have also confirmed that mailing ballots to dead people is possible but extremely rare. Claims that these cases lead to voter fraud are unproven. 

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Our rating: False

The claim that Nevada’s 2020 presidential election included cases of duplicate voting, dead voters, fake addresses and noncitizens voting is FALSE, based on our research. The claims in the post are based on a failed lawsuit where a district court found that no illegal votes were cast and counted or that any legal votes were not counted. Biden won Nevada’s six electoral votes and those results were finalized by Congress. 

Our fact-check sources:

  • Excess of Democracy, “Scrutinizing one voter fraud allegation: did 42,000 people vote more than once in Nevada in 2020?” 
  • Order Granting Motion to Dismiss Statement of Contest, Dec. 8, 2020, Law v. Whitmer
  • Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, Dec. 16, 2020, Witness Statement of Jesse Binnall
  • 8 News Now, Dec. 3, 2020, “Trump lawyers claim 1,500+ dead voters cast ballots, 40,000 voted twice in Nevada election”
  • Case text, Dec. 8, 2020, Law v. Whitmer
  • The Nevada Independent, Dec. 18, 2020, “Secretary of State: No evidence of ‘wide-spread fraud’ in Nevada’s 2020 election”
  • Nevada Secretary of State, “Facts vs. Myths” 
  • USA TODAY, Nov. 19, 2020, “Fact check: Claim that voting noncitizens affected 2020 election outcome is unverified”
  • USA TODAY, Sept. 28, 2020, “Fact check: Thousands of ballots were not sent to dead people or pets in Nevada, Virginia
  • USA TODAY, July 14, 2020, “Fact check: Mailing ballots to dead people not leading to voter fraud, experts and studies say”

Thank you for supporting our journalism. You can subscribe to our print edition, ad-free app or electronic newspaper replica here.

Our fact check work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.

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