Nevada voting raffle targeting Native Americans opens door to Trump legal challenge

Group's site offered chance to win hundreds of dollars in gift cards to those who had proof they voted. Trump campaign argues it was an illegal incentive.

A get-out-the-vote effort by a Nevada Native American group included a raffle with cash prizes, opening the door to a legal challenge by the Trump campaign that the incentives ran afoul of federal election law. The group denies that it did anything illegal in the lead-up to the 2020 election.

The Nevada Native Vote Project, a group that seeks to "increase civic participation of the Indigenous populations in Nevada," sponsored a "virtual raffle" during this year's presidential election, according to a post on the group's Facebook page.

The event, sponsored jointly with the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony, informed voters that they would be entered in a raffle if they sent in a photograph of themselves with an "I Voted" sticker and/or a "ballot completion form."

Among the prizes in the raffle were four $250 gift cards, four $100 gift cards and eight $25 gift cards, as well as "beadwork, t-shirts & more," the raffle poster advertised.

Subsequent posts from the group showed numerous raffle winners. "Thank you for voting!" some of the posts read.

Trump campaign alleges 'illegal and improper votes'

The voting drive, which appears to have received relatively little attention prior to and during the election, was mentioned in the Trump campaign's recent lawsuit filed in Nevada, one which alleges that "significant problems plagued the Election in the State of Nevada" and that "the purported election results [in that state] lacked integrity and demonstrate that the reported election results are inherently unreliable."

Among the charges in that lawsuit was that the Nevada Native Vote Project violated election law with its voting raffle.

"Offering something of value to a voter in exchange for his/her vote is a violation of Federal and Nevada law," the suit asserts. "All such votes cast in exchange for the above described incentives are, therefore, illegal and improper votes."

The U.S. Code does prohibit incentives to vote, forbidding anyone from making "an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate" and prohibiting voters from accepting such gifts. Violators can face up to two years in prison for such violations.