Nevada county where Trump won to replace voting machines
CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — Local officials in rural Nevada decided on Thursday to replace equipment manufactured by Dominion Voting Systems — a sign that unsubstantiated concerns about election machine tampering are still prevalent more than a year after the 2020 election.
In Lander County, population 5,734, commissioners approved $223,000 in spending for new ES&S voting machines and $69,000 for maintenance, installation and training. ES&S equipment is federally certified and used throughout the country, including in Carson City.
The equipment will replace Dominion’s suite of voting equipment, which was the subject of conspiracy theories in the aftermath of the 2020 election, with Trump campaign attorneys suggesting without evidence that the company’s equipment had ties to Venezuela, George Soros and Antifa.
Those claims have been largely debunked. News networks that promulgated them have faced defamation lawsuits. But Lander County residents continued to claim that Dominion’s equipment swayed the election results in comments to the commission over the past several months.
The commissioners decided to replace Dominion equipment after outgoing County Clerk Sadie Sullivan, who oversees local elections, told them in October that the company had been a reliable partner. They said their scrutiny of Dominion machines wasn’t because they thought Lander’s elections was victim to foul play, but because they weren’t sure about the machines elsewhere.
Though Trump won nearly 80% of the vote in Lander County, commissioners have considered an Arizona-style voting machine audit and earlier this year floated a proposal to hand-count ballots in future elections.
Sullivan told commissioners that it would be difficult under state law and their contract with Dominion to seize the machines and said hand-counting can lead to inaccuracies and human error.
Commissioners in Elko County are also considering new voting machines. Republicans there also say they’re confident in local results, but worry about election tampering in other places where Dominion equipment is used and believe replacing them may rebuild public trust.
Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has said the results in Nevada — where President Joe Biden won by 33,596 votes — were accurate and reliable.
In Nevada, electronic voting machines are certified by the federal government and required to run on closed systems to prevent hacking and cyberattacks. Touch screen voting machines are required to print a paper audit, which is then scanned and counted by another machine.
Lander County commissioners scuttled their hand-count proposal. Officials also chose Molly Gonzalez, a county employee, to succeed Sullivan, who is among a growing list of local election officials who have announced plans to leave their posts.
Metz is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.