Sinclair's national news desk is helping Trump undermine the election results in Nevada
Scott Thuman, the chief political correspondent for the conservative local TV giant Sinclair Broadcast Group, uncritically repeated evidence-free claims from the Trump campaign that many non-residents voted in Nevada during the 2020 presidential election. News organizations have projected Trump lost the state.
Some Nevada Republicans have filed a federal lawsuit alleging that 3,000 illegal votes may have been cast in the state without offering any evidence. Though the Trump campaign is not a plaintiff in the suit, it has supported and amplified it. As a November 5 Las Vegas Review-Journal article explained (emphasis added):
Two Republican congressional campaigns and a Nevada voter filed a federal lawsuit Thursday night against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria, asking the court to stop the use of Clark County’s electronic mail ballot counting machine and making a variety of fraud accusations.
Although President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Nevada Republican Party are not listed as plaintiffs, they held a news conference Thursday morning promising the lawsuit, an event that featured the named plaintiff, Las Vegas resident Jill Stokke.
The campaigns of Dan Rodimer and Jim Marchant, who are challenging Reps. Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, respectively, are two of the other listed plaintiffs.
Their lawsuit alleged “3,000 instances of ineligible individuals casting ballots” in Clark County, including ballots from deceased voters. It offered no evidence of that or any other allegations, and there are no attached exhibits to the filing.
A separate letter sent to the Department of Justice on Wednesday by the Nevada Republican Party alleged to have identified 3,062 individuals who cast a ballot in Nevada while living in another state. It includes an attachment that lists only addresses of the allegedly ineligible voters but not names or any other identifying information. The Review-Journal has requested the names but has not yet received them.
There are a variety of reasons why a person residing out of the state may be allowed to cast a ballot in Nevada, including part-time residents of the state with homes elsewhere, attending college in another state, or people who have recently moved.
The article also noted that Trump campaign staffer and former acting Director of National Intelligence Ric Grenell “declined to offer specifics when asked for evidence of the campaign’s allegations” at a press conference.
Similarly, the headline on a November 5 article from KSNV -- a Las Vegas TV station owned by Sinclair -- included the important context covering these claims: “Trump campaign alleges ‘illegal votes' in Nevada, provides no evidence.”
But unlike these local news outlets, Thuman included no such context in two of his televised reports, even though they aired the same days these articles were published. In fact, he failed to offer any details about the claim, treating it as if it were factual and legitimate. Both these reports aired on dozens of Sinclair-owned or -operated stations in dozens of states, including Nevada.
The Wall Street Journal examined the list of voters pushed by the Trump campaign and reported on November 8 that “a few hundred of the 3,062 voters appear to be connected with the military, either because the new ZIP Code was on a military base, or because it was located in a place with active military presence, according to military families and personnel and the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada.”
The ACLU of Nevada, which does nonpartisan election-protection work in the state, said it has heard from military voters who think they are on the list. The ACLU said the Trump campaign list includes changes of address to at least 129 Army/Air Post Office addresses, 13 Fleet Post Offices and 15 Diplomatic Post Offices—all designations of military bases. There are others the ACLU said are located in cities near military hubs.
Nevada residents are eligible to vote in some instances if they are out of state during an election, including if they are a student, member of the military or military spouse, or working elsewhere with intentions to return to the state, state election officials said.
The Trump campaign’s accusations of voter fraud have angered some military personnel and their families.
PolitiFact also looked into these claims pushed by the Trump campaign on November 6, and determined they were false because no information has been presented to back them up. As the fact-checking organization explained, the list of addresses on its own proves nothing because Americans from Nevada who moved close to the election date could choose to cast their ballot in their former state:
PolitiFact reached out to Trump’s campaign, a law office representing the campaign, and to the Nevada Republican Party seeking information. We did not hear back.
At this point, the claims are unproven.
Lawyers for Trump’s campaign sent a letter to Clark County’s counsel, saying, “We have confirmed that thousands of votes have been cast improperly. Indeed, we have initially identified 3,062 voters who moved from Nevada before the election but still cast ballots in this election." The lawyers said they cross-referenced the list of general election voters with publicly available change of address records. The attorneys sent a similar letter to Barr, the U.S. attorney general.
However, a mismatch in those records doesn’t necessarily mean that a vote was cast illegally. The ACLU of Nevada said that an American who moved within 30 days before an election has a right to vote in a presidential race in their new state of residence, or may cast a ballot in their previous state of residence, in-person or via absentee ballot. A spokesperson for Nevada Secretary of State Barbara K. Cegavske, a Republican, told PolitiFact that the ACLU statement is accurate and also applies to Nevada.
Nevadans who go to college out-of-state and other people who leave the state temporarily can also get a ballot at a new address.
So the list produced by Trump’s lawyers on its own does not prove whether the identified people cast a vote illegally.
The burden of proof is on the speaker making the claim. The information released so far by Trump’s team does not confirm their claim.
We rate the claim False.