Clark County Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez denied a motion Monday by Stavros Anthony to prevent the Clark County Commission from reversing course and certifying the results of the District C race, which Anthony, a Las Vegas City Councilman, lost to former Secretary of State Ross Miller by ten votes.
The ruling clears the way for the County Commission to reconsider a vote two weeks ago not to certify the results of the District C race.
The Commission voted to certify all election results with the exception of District C after Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria said discrepancies in the voting process prevented him from ensuring the results of the close race were accurate.
Gloria said 139 routine discrepancies, such as voters casting ballots without signing in, or signing in and not casting a ballot, clouded the results of the tight race.
“As a result, I cannot certify that the vote is an accurate representation of the will of the voters in that district, and in my professional opinion as an election official, it raises a reasonable doubt as to the outcome of the election,” Gloria said in an affidavit filed with the court.
“There’s no election that goes without discrepancies,” Gloria told commissioners in November. “It’s always been the practice to ensure the number of discrepancies don’t exceed the margin of the vote.”
“The election result is in doubt,” Anthony’s attorney, Mark Hutchison, argued Monday before Gonzalez in a motion for preliminary injunction to stop certification of the election. “The will of the voters may not be reflected in the vote count.”
If his election is certified, Miller would be the seventh Democrat on the Board of County Commissioners.
Attorney Bradley Schrager, who represents Miller, said Anthony was requesting the extraordinary relief of “cancelling the election.”
He said the recount and contest processes are the exclusive remedies available to Anthony and any defeated candidate.
“That’s where you go when you want to argue there were votes cast that shouldn’t have been,” he said during Monday’s hearing.
Anthony would bear the costs of a recount, while the County would be on the hook for a special election. Gloria is expected to report the cost of a special election to the Commission on Tuesday.
“Obviously seeking to have the Commission certify the election for District C is clearly a shrewd political maneuver because it guarantees either Miller or another Democrat appointed by Governor Sisolak will occupy the District C Commission seat, but not Republican Anthony,” Anthony’s motion for a preliminary injunction says.
“If an election is prevented in any precinct or district by reason of the loss or destruction of the ballots intended for that precinct, or any other cause, the appropriate election officers in that precinct or district shall make an affidavit setting forth that fact and transmit it to the appropriate board of county commissioners,” says the Nevada law cited by Hutchison.
Hutchison cautioned Gonzalez would be writing the law “out of existence” if she ruled against Anthony.
“You write the remedy out of the law, your honor,” he argued.
But Gonzalez ruled Anthony cannot rely on the statute because voters were not prevented from casting ballots.
“I’m not going to enjoin the County Commission,” she said. On Friday, she’ll hear a Writ of Prohibition filed by Anthony.
“Our campaign trusts in the knowledge and professionalism of the County Registrar of Voters, the county’s chief election officer, and will use every means available to us to secure a new election,” Anthony said in a statement following Gonzalez’ ruling.
He called on the County Commission to uphold its six-to-one vote two weeks ago not to certify the District C election and instead, order a special election.
“That’s what the board has done in the past is set up a special election of two candidates to rerun the election,” Assistant District Attorney Mary Ann Miller, who represents the Commission, told members at the Nov. 16 meeting. “It’s not an unusual process. It happens in Assembly races because they are smaller and are more likely to be close.”
Commissioner Tick Segerblom, who voted then with the majority not to certify the election, brought the agenda item to reconsider the vote Tuesday.
Commissioner Justin Jones, the only member of the Board to originally vote against the motion to exempt the District C race from certification, noted the Board’s statutory obligation is to canvass the results, not resolve discrepancies.
“Our job in canvassing in the vote is not to ensure every ballot has been double-checked and triple checked and quadruple checked,” he said at the Nov. 16 meeting.
Commissioner Jim Gibson said at the Nov. 16th meeting the credibility of the election process is on the line and advocated for a new election.
“I think the credibility of everything that we do is something that can be affirmed by simply doing that, rather than waiting for some Court to tell us how to conduct our business,” Gibson said.
“It will be interesting to see what the other commissioners do,” Segerblom told the Current.