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Republicans scrutinize voting rolls and ramp up for mass challenges ahead of election

Matt Vasilogambros, on

Published in News & Features

When Scott Hoen ran to be Carson City, Nevada’s chief election official two years ago, he campaigned on “election integrity,” promising to make sure voter registration lists were accurate.

In the chaotic aftermath of the 2020 presidential election, he believed that too many of his fellow Republicans were convinced that there was widespread voter fraud. By keeping voter rolls current, Hoen thought he could restore voter trust in his county’s election system.

He won. And every day since he took office, he and his staff have tried to keep that focus, using data from all levels of government to remove voters who have moved or died from the active voter list.

Hoen was surprised, then, to be named in a lawsuit the Republican National Committee and the Nevada Republican Party filed last month against him, four other Nevada county clerks and the secretary of state. The lawsuit alleges that five localities had “inordinately high” voter registration rates, and that the state is violating federal law by not having what are known as “clean” voter rolls.

Hoen said the lawsuit is “unfortunate” and “a distraction” in a pivotal election year. The state responded by saying the data Republicans used in the lawsuit are “highly flawed” and that the RNC’s analysis was like “comparing apples to orangutans.” Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers asserted without evidence that more than 1,500 dead Nevadans voted in 2020 and that an additional 42,000 in the state voted twice.

The Nevada lawsuit is just one example of the tactics Republicans and conservative activists are using ahead of November’s presidential election, as they seek to purge voter rolls of allegedly ineligible voters. The efforts have election experts worried about voter access.


Changing a voter’s status is routine for election officials. Like others across the country, Hoen moves voters from active to inactive when election mail is repeatedly returned or when he gets death notices, and moves them to active status when he gets motor vehicle records for newly registered voters.

Nevada also is a member of the Electronic Registration Information Center, known commonly as ERIC, an interstate data-sharing pact that seeks to help states keep updated voter lists. Recently, ERIC has been a target of conspiracy theories that led to an exodus of nine Republican-led states over the past two years.

“Who knows where they got their numbers. But they didn’t consult me or ask me, or no one’s talked to me about what we do with voter roll maintenance,” Hoen said of the lawsuit in an interview with Stateline. “We do everything we can, per the law, to keep our voter rolls as plain as possible.”

The RNC filed a similar lawsuit against Michigan last month. Conservative groups have recently filed lawsuits in many other states, seeking access to state voter registration lists and claiming they might be bloated.


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