The moves come ahead of November, when Silver State voters will decide the outcome of several high-profile contests, including a US Senate race that could determine which party controls the chamber.
Some voting rights advocates in Nevada say recent developments at the county level in their state — including the push to hand-count ballots — are raising concerns about the security and accuracy of this year’s elections.
“The emergency that exists nationally has arrived in Nevada right now,” said Athar Haseebullah, the executive director of the ACLU of Nevada. “Voting rights and the process of voting are under siege.”
“It should be a fire-alarm fire for people in the state who believe in democracy.”
The Republicans’ ascension to top local election posts come as distrust about voting machines has gripped some Republican-led counties in the state. Kampf now plans to test moving to paper ballots and hand-counting them in November’s general election — a controversial move approved earlier this year by the county’s commissioners.
Critics say hand-counting is a labor-intensive system that’s susceptible to human error and tampering and warn it could lead to delays in delivering election results.
But, faced with increasing demands in rural parts of Nevada to bypass voting machines, aides to Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican who has defended the integrity of the 2020 election, are drafting temporary regulations on how to count ballots by hand.
A hearing on adopting the rules is set for Friday.
In an interview with CNN this week, Kampf declined to discuss his contention that Trump had won the presidency in 2020. “As clerk, I really don’t want to talk about that because I don’t think it’s relevant to my task at hand,” he said.
“Everyone has an opinion. We’re all entitled to one,” he added, when pressed on his views on the 2020 election. “But when it comes to doing the job as the clerk, there is no way I would ever be anything but impartial.”
Hindle, who was named Storey County interim clerk-treasurer last week, did not respond to interview requests.
Hindle is the only candidate on the ballot in November.
In an email to CNN, Storey County Manager Austin Osborne said the board of commissioners “found it appropriate to appoint him to fill the vacancy until such time that he automatically assumes the permanent role in that office.”
In Nye County, meanwhile, commissioners earlier this month voted 4-1 to install Kampf as the temporary replacement for longtime Republican clerk Sandra “Sam” Merlino.
Kampf won the GOP primary for the position and is on the ballot in November, seeking a full term as clerk.
Former President Donald Trump and his allies have targeted Dominion Voting Systems with baseless claims that its machines used in 2020 were hacked and votes flipped. The company has filed multiple defamation lawsuits in response.
Nye — a sprawling county northwest of Las Vegas that’s nearly twice the physical size of New Hampshire — is at the forefront of a movement to ditch vote-tabulating machines in favor of hand-counting paper ballots.
Marchant did not respond to interview requests from CNN.
Other counties in the state have weighed the move.
State law does not specifically outlaw counting ballots by hand, and the secretary of state’s office began working on regulations more than a year ago “as we started to see some of our counties considering hand counting,” Jennifer Russell, a spokeswoman for the agency, said in an email.
State officials say they are trying to develop a uniform standard for counting across the state and say the temporary rules will help ensure that county clerks do not have to craft procedures from scratch.
If approved, they would take in effect on September 30 and expire in November 2023, under a version discussed last week.
“Rolling out a new election system so close to an election has extra risks. This would be a completely new way of counting votes,” Larry Norden, senior director of Brennan’s elections and government program, told CNN.
Kampf told CNN that he plans to proceed in November with a dual-track system — using both vote-tabulating machines and hand-counting ballots “so I can show it can be done on a timely basis.”
Using the machines, he said, should exempt him from the proposed new regulations. And if the test works, Kampf said he wants to move entirely to hand-counting in future elections.
Kampf said voters in Nye no longer trust voting machines.
“My goal is to have a totally transparent process, so that voters can focus on who they are voting for, not how they are completing the voting,” he said.