LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A group of electors who submitted false paperwork, claiming former President Donald Trump won the 2020 election in Nevada, will not face any state charges because a statute to potentially prosecute them does not exist, Democratic Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford said Thursday.
Voters do not vote for presidential candidates themselves but for a slate of electors, mainly political party leaders, who then in turn vote for the preferred candidate in the weeks after a presidential election. In December 2020, former Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, oversaw the official state ceremony, which certified the state’s six electoral votes for President Joe Biden. Biden won Nevada by more than 33,000 votes.
That same day, the Nevada Republican Party’s six electors signed paperwork signaling their support for Trump in a symbolic ceremony devoid of any legal merit. The group included Nevada GOP Party Chair Michael McDonald and 2024 U.S. Senate candidate Jim Marchant.
This February, Democratic State Sen. Skip Daly proposed Senate Bill 133, which would penalize anyone who conspires and who transmits a fake elector certificate.
While testifying in favor of the bill Thursday before the Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, Ford said no Nevada law allowed him to take possible action.
“With it on our radar, we ascertained that current state statutes did not directly address the conduct in question,” Ford told the committee.
If Senate Bill 133 becomes law, a person who “conspire[s] to create or serve in a false slate of presidential electors” could be charged with a felony, which would carry a prison sentence of 4-10 years, documents said. The felon would also be barred from serving in public office for several years.
The bill passed the state Senate in an 11-10 vote. It is now in the Assembly for consideration.
In a statement after the fake-elector signing event, McDonald said the party’s electors convened in Carson City due to ongoing legal battles seeking to overturn the election results. In addition to Nevada, Republicans in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin also submitted fake documents, the Jan. 6 committee said.
Upon receiving the fake electoral votes from the Nevada GOP, the U.S. Senate Parliamentarian noted the document contained “no seal of the state” and “no evidence votes were delivered by the executive of the state for signature by electors,” the committee’s final report said.
The Jan. 6 committee interviewed both McDonald and Republican elector Jim DeGraffenreid. Both men invoked their Fifth Amendment rights repeatedly — McDonald more than 200 times. Neither has returned repeated requests for comment.
The committee released text messages between DeGraffenreid and fellow elector Shawn Meehan discussing the Dec. 14 meeting and its aftermath.
“Electors vote a week from today unless a federal court pushes [the] date,” Meehan texted to DeGraffenreid in documents the committee released. “Wish I knew the bigger strategy. Not feeling super confident but trying to trust and be positive.”
Ford told the Assembly committee that his office would help the Department of Justice if asked. It was unclear if the ask had already been made.
“As long as I am attorney general, I will never stop fighting against those seeking to undermine our elections,” Ford said. “I will never stop fighting against those that seek to undermine our democracy, and this bill gives my office tools to do just that.”
The Nevada GOP has never responded to questions for comment on the electors. A spokesperson for Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo did not immediately return a request for comment.