Hundreds of military and family members are likely among those included in a list of 3,062 people the Trump campaign believes “improperly cast ballots” in Nevada in the 2020 election, according to a Military Times analysis.
“We write to bring to your attention criminal voter fraud” in Nevada in the 2020 general election, wrote attorneys on behalf of the Trump campaign, in a Nov. 5 letter to Attorney General William Barr.
The letter included a list of those individuals, without names or street addresses. But the attorneys stated they cross-referenced the names and addresses of voters with the National Change of Address database to come up with their allegations. The list, published on Twitter by Riley Snyder, a reporter for the Nevada Independent, specified the voter’s Nevada city of residence, with the zip code plus 4; and the location where the voter had moved, with the zip code plus 4. The list was reported by Military.com.
Of those 3,062 addresses, more than 100 listed military APO and FPO zip codes; and at least 14 specific U.S. military bases were even listed as the current address for multiple voters — ranging from Beale Air Force Base, Calif., to Fort Bragg, N.C.
But there were also numerous voters listed in dozens of cities and towns that have large military populations, such as Fayetteville, where Fort Bragg is located; San Diego, Norfolk, San Antonio, Watertown, N.Y., Dayton, Ohio; Altus, Okla.; Yuma, Ariz.; and Tacoma, Wash.
Air Force wife Amy Rose, of Davis, Calif., said she was shocked to find that she and her husband were on that list. Although their names and address weren’t listed, she was able to match up the location and zip codes of their current and former addresses.
They voted by absentee ballots in their home district of Clark County, Nevada. She and her husband, an Air Force major, moved to Davis, Calif., earlier this year, where he is working toward his doctorate at the University of California, Davis.
Rose was interested in the discussion of voter fraud in Nevada and allegations of voting by people who had moved from the state, but she didn’t think it affected her and her husband, knowing that federal and state laws protect their right to vote. But she decided to look at the vote list, and was able to match the specific zip codes to their former and current residences.
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“I put it all together and realized we were being accused of fraudulently voting in Nevada. I was shocked and concerned,” said Rose, an attorney working for the nonprofit veterans organization Swords to Plowshares. She was previously legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. “We knew our votes were legal and we had done nothing wrong, but our integrity was being challenged. Our names were being sent to the Department of Justice for investigation for criminal voting fraud.
“It’s incredibly frustrating and upsetting that our votes are being used in this way, to try to undermine legitimate election results in Nevada.”
Rose said she’s been contacted by at least three other spouses who believe they are among those on the list.
The letter is one of a number of efforts to challenge the results of the election. According to the Associated Press, the Trump campaign has filed more than a dozen lawsuits in at least five states.
Information was not available from the Nevada GOP as to whether the campaign was aware that many of the voters on the list provided to Attorney General Barr were military, and their right to vote by absentee ballot is protected under the federal Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act.
Shana Weir, the attorney who sent the letter and list to Attorney General Barr, did not respond to requests for comment.
A Department of Justice official said the department is still looking into the situation.
A separate division of the Justice Department – the civil rights division — is responsible for enforcing the voting rights for military and overseas citizens. The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, commonly referred to as UOCAVA, provides protections for military members and their family members stationed away from their voting district, to help ensure their vote is counted. UOCAVA protections also apply to overseas U.S. citizens.
One protection that DOJ monitors requires election officials to send absentee ballots at least 45 days before federal elections to UOCAVA voters who have requested the absentee ballot.
These 3,062 voters included in the Trump campaign’s list are not all inclusive of UOCAVA voters in Nevada. While it’s not known how many military members and their family members voted by absentee ballot in Nevada in this Presidential Election, there were 2,677 military absentee ballots counted by Nevada election officials in the 2016 Presidential Election, according to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Early indicators are that numbers of voters have increased across the board, including military absentee voters. There were 3,613 absentee ballots in Nevada counted from U.S. citizens overseas in the 2016 Presidential Election.
Bob Carey, chairman of the National Defense Committee, said it’s his understanding that the Trump campaign is revising the letter to the attorney general, given the large numbers of military members and family members apparently included in the list. Carey is a retired Navy captain who served as director of the Federal Voting Assistance Program from 2009 to 2012. He said the names were probably mistakenly included because of a lack of understanding of the federal law.
It’s not clear whether the Nevada voter list the Trump campaign used for reference had any designations for voters protected under UOCAVA, although aside from that, many of the addresses were clearly military.
Amy Rose said she used the Federal Post Card Application to notify Clark County officials of her change of address, and to request her absentee ballot. That FPCA clearly designates her as a voter with protections under the UOCAVA.
“It came as a surprise that there were so many obvious indications of military” among the list, said Sarah Streyder, founder of the Military Vote Coalition and the director of Secure Families Initiative. “It feels like not a lot of research was done, and there’s not a lot of awareness about the nature of military voting, among the people bringing this case.
“My biggest concern is, I don’t want any legitimate legal voter to be harassed by the Department of Justice,” Streyder said.
“Military voters have to go to extraordinary lengths to vote,” she said, noting that this year there were extra pandemic-related hurdles, such as issues with delayed permanent change of station moves, causing delays in providing changes of address to voting officials in order to get the absentee ballot in time.
One takeaway from all this, she said, is that “we’ve learned from the margins [of votes] in places like Nevada and Georgia that we UOCAVA voters matter.
“It’s a hopeful message. I want military families to feel empowered by the voice they have.” A number of states’ election officials have emphasized the importance of counting UOCAVA votes, including the extra mail transit time states like Georgia and Nevada allow to receive UOCAVA ballots beyond election day, based on state laws.
People should understand how important it is for military members, students, displaced persons and others to vote, Air Force wife Amy Rose said, and that different paths for voting should remain open to them.
“The harder it is for citizens to vote, the greater the risk of disenfranchisement,” she said. And with the frequent moves of military, “to uproot their lives without the ability to vote absentee, there’s a real risk of being disenfranchised.”
About Karen Jowers
Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book “A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families.” She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.