LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — When a group of Republicans met in December 2020, the drumbeat of “election fraud” and “stolen votes” was shaking American politics. Lawsuits and meritless accusations surrounding President Joe Biden’s election victory were flying. Nevada’s official votes for Biden had already been cast.
The Nevada Republican Party’s six “electors” signed paperwork and livestreamed on YouTube proclaiming, “History made today in Carson City.”
Fake electoral certificates were received at the National Archives.
Reports from the 8 New Now Investigators documented the actions. The ceremonies were symbolic, without any legal merit. But they weren’t illegal. Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford acknowledged that more than two years later when he said there were no state laws that pertained to the conduct.
And after Gov. Joe Lombardo’s veto of Senate Bill 133 (SB133) on Thursday, that’s not going to change. Lombardo’s explanation for the veto said the penalties set forth in the bill — 4-10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $5,000– were out of scale:
“I believe ensuring the sanctity and security of our elections is paramount to maintaining public confidence in both our electoral processes and in elected officials. There should be strict punishments for those seeking to undermine that confidence, including those engaged in schemes to present slates of false electors.
“That said, it is difficult to fathom how the penalty for being engaged in such a scheme should be harsher – in terms of time-served and by requiring a permanent relinquishment of certain unrelated employment rights — than the penalty for high-level fentanyl traffickers, certain domestic violence perpetrators, and even some of the most extreme and violent actors on January 6.
“Because SB133 does nothing to ensure the security of our elections and merely provides disproportionately harsh penalties for an, admittedly, terrible crime, I cannot support it.”
Washoe County Democratic Senator Skip Daly sponsored the bill, joined by 7 primary sponsors and 29 co-sponsors — all Democrats. The bill barely survived an 11-10 vote on the Senate floor, eventually reaching the governor’s desk on May 23.
In addition to prison time and a fine, the bill would have prohibited a person convicted of violating the law from getting a state or local government job, and barred them from elected or appointed office.
Here’s a look at the stories chronicling the events:
One opponent of SB133 described the bill as a “knee-jerk reaction” to a nonviolent crime.