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Nevada Supreme Court allows early hand-counting of votes

RENO, Nev. (AP) — A rural Nevada county can start hand-counting mail-in ballots two weeks before Election Day, the state Supreme Court ruled Friday, but it won’t be allowed to livestream the tallying in order to make sure voting results aren’t accidently released.

The ruling came in response to an emergency petition filed by the ACLU of Nevada challenging Nye County’s plan to start hand-counting votes on Wednesday, which the ACLU said in its lawsuit risks public release of early voting results.

Nye County is one of the first jurisdictions nationwide to act on election conspiracies related to mistrust in voting machines.

Interim Nye County Clerk Mark Kampf had planned to set up a livestream of the count, which he said would enable residents to “become poll watchers at home.”

However, the court said that if observers heard the votes read aloud, the observers — who are members of the public — “are likely to learn election result information before the release of such information is statutorily authorized.”

Kampf proposed the plan in response to false claims about Dominion voting machines. The planned hand-count will take place alongside machine tabulators.

The court also ordered the county to require observers to certify that they will not release any information regarding the vote count process early.

Nevada’s least populous county, Esmeralda, used hand-counting to certify June’s primary results, when officials spent more than seven hours counting 317 ballots cast. On Wednesday, Elko County’s board of commissioners discussed their support for hand-counting and paper ballots, though they will likely have no hand-count this cycle as it’s too close to when polls open.

Gabe Stern, The Associated Press