In setback to Republicans, judge rules ballot-counting measures in Nevada legal

FILE PHOTO: Supporters gather for an indoor rally with U.S. President Donald Trump in Henderson, Nevada, U.S. September 13, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

(Reuters) - A Nevada judge ruled that ballot-counting measures in the state’s largest county, home to Las Vegas, were legal, a setback to U.S. President Donald Trump and Republican officials in a battleground state ahead of Tuesday’s election.

The suit claimed the counting process in Clark County was plagued by several issues, including observers not being able to get to where they needed to observe the count and ballots being handled in a way observers deemed improper.

Trump’s campaign, the state’s Republican Party and an individual voter filed the lawsuit against Nevada’s secretary of state and the Clark County registrar on Oct. 23. The ruling, issued on Thursday, was released on Monday.

Trump is trailing Democratic nominee Joe Biden in opinion polls in Nevada, one of a dozen battleground states that traditionally decide presidential elections.

Judge James Wilson said the plaintiffs in the Nevada case did not have legal standing to bring the case and had not provided evidence that the county’s processes had led to the counting of fraudulent votes.

“There is no evidence that any vote that should lawfully not be counted has been or will be counted. There is no evidence that any election worker did anything outside of the law, policy, or procedures,” the judge wrote.

Trump has repeatedly warned of fraud, although election experts say that is rare in U.S. elections. Both campaigns have mobilized armies of lawyers in preparation for post-election litigation battles.

Nevada’s Attorney General Aaron Ford praised the decision in a statement, saying: “Today’s ruling makes clear that there is a proper procedure to observe an election that even the president must follow, and it’s most certainly a victory for the constitutional rights of all Nevadans.”

The Trump campaign and Nevada’s Republican Party did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Reporting by Makini Brice in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Howard Goller and Aurora Ellis