Nevada Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo vetoed a bill Thursday that would have made the western swing state the first in the country to make it a crime to sign certificates falsely stating that a losing candidate has won a certain state.
The bill seeking to crack down on so-called fake electors would have established penalties of between four and 10 years in prison. Democratic state Attorney General Aaron Ford endorsed the legislation, while some public defenders opposed it, calling it too harsh.
The measure’s fate was uncertain before Thursday, as Lombardo had not previously said whether he would sign it.
Lombardo said in his veto message that there should be ‘strict punishments’ for people undermining confidence in elections, including those who present false slates of electors. But he added that the level of punishment in the bill was harsher than penalties that have been given to some domestic violence offenders and some of the most ‘extreme and violent actors on January 6.’
The bill ‘does nothing to ensure the security of our elections and merely provides disproportionately harsh penalties for an, admittedly, terrible crime,’ he added.
In 2020, six Nevada GOP members signed certificates falsely stating that former president Donald Trump won the state and sent them to Congress and the National Archives, where they were ultimately ignored. Republicans in six other battleground states did the same in a last-ditch attempt to keep the former president in power.
Lombardo’s veto came two days after he signed legislation making it a felony punishable by up to four years in prison to harass, intimidate or use force against election workers performing their duties.
The governor, who was endorsed by Trump last year, has pushed back against his false claims that the 2020 election was stolen, saying there was a ‘modicum’ of fraud but not enough to sway the vote.