More than a week after Republican gubernatorial candidate and Reno-area attorney Joey Gilbert filed a formal challenge to his primary loss against Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo, it remains unclear precisely when a judge will hear the case.

Though two pre-trial hearings were held over video conference last week, no date for a hearing on Gilbert’s case has been set. However, Carson City District Court Judge James Wilson has signaled that the case could be heard as soon as this week (Aug. 1 through Aug. 5) to expedite proceedings in case of an appeal, though existing court scheduling could delay a hearing until the following week. 

Largely procedural, the two tele-hearings conducted so far have allowed a number of original defendants named in the suit to exit the case, as state law dictates that legal parties in election contests can only be the winner and the loser of a given election. 

That change has allowed Gov. Steve Sisolak and Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, as well as county commissions and county clerks in Washoe and Clark counties — all named as parties in Gilbert’s initial filing — to be dropped from the suit. 

Broadly speaking, the election contest lawsuit claims that an “illegal formula” was used to tabulate votes, and that the distribution of reported 2022 primary election results from mail, early and Election Day voters do not line up with expected results in a fair election.

Those claims center largely on a 40-page analysis from Edward Solomon, identified by the suit as an expert mathematician, who has alleged since the 2020 election that algorithms have been responsible for switching votes.

An analysis of Solomon’s claims about the 2020 presidential election in Georgia were eventually debunked by a hand-count of paper ballots, which confirmed the result. 

In Nevada, elections are determined by the tabulation of total votes, not on expected results according to formulas or algorithms, and the suit does not make claims about the votes themselves, differing from 2020 election challenges that centered on the eligibility of certain voters or the presence of alleged “illegal votes.” An analysis by the secretary of state’s office later found “no evidentiary support” for claims of widespread fraud in Nevada. 

Though Gilbert lost his race to Lombardo by more than 26,000 votes (a number confirmed by a statewide recount), he has refused to concede the race. The recount and the legal challenge to the result have been funded by cryptocurrency millionaire and conservative activist Robert Beadles, who wrote on his website just before the filing became public that Gilbert “rightfully won the primary with 100% certainty.”

Another wrinkle: The timing of the case could prove increasingly problematic, as necessities of the legal process — especially the scheduling of hearings and depositions — butt up against the realities of electoral logistics. 

Though precise dates vary from county to county, more than 1 million ballots being sent across Nevada will need to begin printing by mid-August to meet deadlines for the Nov. 8 general election. 

State law requires that mail ballots for out-of-state and military voters must be sent no later than 45 days before the election (Sept. 23), while mail ballots for in-state residents must be sent no later than 20 days before the election (Oct. 19). County election officials must also prepare and print sample ballots, which internal policy from the secretary of state’s office recommends be distributed by Oct. 7.