Rural Nevada county delays approving primary vote results

Jun 23, 2022, 12:06 AM | Updated: 6:06 pm
FILE - The stone courthouse in Goldfield, Nev., is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Elected official...

FILE - The stone courthouse in Goldfield, Nev., is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020. Elected officials in a rural Nevada county decided Thursday, June 23, 2022, to postpone until Friday certifying results of the 317 votes cast in their jurisdiction during the state's June 14 primary election. The decision in Nevada comes a week after lawmakers in a Republican-leaning rural New Mexico county initially refused to certify their primary election results. (Ed Komenda/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

(Ed Komenda/The Reno Gazette-Journal via AP, File)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Elected officials in one rural Nevada county decided Thursday to postpone until Friday certifying results of the 317 ballots cast in their jurisdiction during the state’s June 14 primary election.

The decision in Esmeralda County, the least populous county in the state, comes a week after lawmakers in a Republican-leaning rural New Mexico county initially refused to certify their primary election results.

Esmeralda County Commission Chairman De Winsor and Vice-Chairman Timothy Hipp responded to complaints about the voting process with a promise to recount the votes themselves before an end-of-day Friday deadline set in state election law.

“The grassroots effort starts right here,” Winsor said midway through a contentious 90-minute meeting at which the three-member commission in the Republican-leaning county met to sign off on the results of the vote. “This is where we proved we do it right.”

Hipp was out of town and participated in the meeting by teleconference. He said he could be back in the county seat, Goldfield, by 2 p.m. Friday to begin counting ballots. Audio of the meeting was streamed on the internet.

County District Attorney Robert Glennen III advised Winsor and Hipp that they could suspend the meeting to reconvene Friday at 2 p.m. He said they have until 11:59 p.m. under state election law to finish.

The third commissioner, Ralph Keyes, said he was already willing to accept the count of the vote conducted by county officials — including a hand-count on Wednesday by county employees of the 177 paper ballots and paper records of 140 ballots that county Clerk-Treasurer LaCinda Elgan said were cast by machine.

In a telephone interview, Elgan noted that a deputy clerk, Michelle Garcia, administered the primary because Elgan was on the Republican ballot for reelection. She drew 57.5% of the vote.

Elgan called the primary in Esmeralda “absolutely safe and fair.”

One vote cast on one ballot was unintelligible, she said, but all ballots were tallied and reported. None was rejected.

It did not appear the number of votes in question could affect results of primary contests that chose candidates for federal and state offices including U.S. Senate, Congress, governor, state attorney general and the top elections official in Nevada, the secretary of state.

State attorney general’s office spokesman John Sadler confirmed that Nevada law sets 11:59 p.m. Friday as the deadline to certify results of the June 14 primary, and said any hand-count of ballots before then would be considered part of the county “canvass” process. Sadler said that to his knowledge, no Nevada county had ever refused to certify results.

State law makes county lawmakers’ roles “ministerial only,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a Wednesday statement responding to questions from AP. If county commissioners or elections officials refused “based on posturing designed to undermine faith in our democratic process,” the statement said, “the state will proceed with legal options.”

Facing the Friday deadline, eight rural Nevada counties have certified the primary vote, including Lyon County on Thursday afternoon. Canvassing is scheduled Friday in Esmeralda and eight others including Clark, covering the Las Vegas area; Washoe covering the Reno area; and Nye, a Republican-leaning county including Pahrump and Tonopah.

The results from Nevada’s 17 counties go to the secretary of state, who “cannot reject or otherwise not accept the results,” said Jennifer Russell, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican.

“If a Nevada county refuses to certify, we would work with the (state attorney general’s) office to determine a path forward,” Russell said.

The standoff in Nevada bore echoes of concerns raised in rural New Mexico’s Republican-leaning Otero County, where commissioners stalled before splitting their vote and approving election results. Officials there cited unspecified concerns with Dominion voting systems, a target of widespread conspiracy theories since the 2020 presidential election.

New Mexico’s Democratic secretary of state appealed to that state’s Supreme Court to intervene before two commissioners relented — complaining that they felt they were little more than rubber-stamps.

The three commissioners in Esmeralda voted in April to join commissioners in neighboring Nye County calling for elections to be conducted using paper ballots — and without Dominion machines. Elgan and the elected county clerk in Nye County, Sam Merlino, both said they did not believe it was feasible to stop using electronic voting machines this year.

In email and in-person comments protesting the Esmeralda County primary vote, resident Mary Jane Zakas made no reference to New Mexico.

But she alleged that “hot dog tongs could have breached” ballot boxes that she said didn’t meet security standards; that partisan workers drove ballots from a remote polling place to Goldfield; and that a Dominion representative provided assistance to an election worker. Zakas said that showed the poll worker wasn’t properly trained.

Elgan and Garcia responded that the worker was trained, but the Dominion representative was there to help. The county clerk said no computer malfunctioned.

Zakas also alleged in her email that “the vote could have been flipped or tampered with” during the five minutes she said a poll worker carried a thumb drive from a vote tally computer out of a room.

In audio streamed from the meeting, Elgan and Garcia responded that a printer was in the other room. Elgan said a printer will be installed in the counting room for the general election.

“We’ve got a problem. People don’t trust the system,” Zakas told the commissioners. “We’ve got a situation where a lot of people are really concerned about the safety of their votes.”

Esmeralda County, a former mining boom area, is about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno. It is home to fewer than 1,000 residents. Nearly 54% of the county’s 621 active registered voters are Republicans, according to the Nevada Secretary of State, and more than 25% are non-partisan.

President Donald Trump won 82% of the vote in Esmeralda County in 2020.

___

This story has been updated to correct that no computer malfunctioned. This story also was updated to correct that the last name of the county district attorney. He is Robert Glennen III, not Glennon.

____

Associated Press writer Scott Sonner in Reno, Nevada, and Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico, contributed to this report.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - Doja Cat performs at the Coachella Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on Sunday, ...
Associated Press

BET Awards return Sunday with Doja Cat as leading nominee

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The BET Awards return Sunday with a live show that could see Doja Cat, Drake and Ari Lennox snag some trophies. Doja Cat enters the show as the leading nominee with six. The chart-topping performer is up for best female R&B-pop artist, best female hip-hop artist, album of the year for […]
22 hours ago
FILE - Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaks with reporters following a closed-door...
Associated Press

Senate confirmed justices to end Roe. How will voters react?

WASHINGTON (AP) — The end of Roe v. Wade started in the Senate. It was the Senate Republican partnership with President Donald Trump to confirm conservative judges, and transform the federal judiciary, that paved the way for the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling to overturn the constitutional right to abortion. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell set […]
22 hours ago
U.S. President Joe Biden, right, waves as he walks past Bavarian mountain riflemen and traditional ...
Associated Press

Biden, G-7 leaders huddle on energy, inflation, Ukraine war

ELMAU, Germany (AP) — President Joe Biden and his Group of Seven allies will huddle Sunday on strategies to secure energy supplies and tackle inflation, aiming to keep the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine from splintering the global coalition working to punish Moscow. Biden arrived in Germany’s picturesque Bavarian alps early Sunday morning for […]
22 hours ago
A staff member works at the Yuet Tung China Works, Hong Kong's porcelain factory, in Hong Kong, Wed...
Associated Press

AP PHOTOS: Hong Kong’s last hand-painted porcelain factory

HONG KONG (AP) — Step into Yuet Tung China Works, Hong Kong’s last remaining hand-painted porcelain factory, and you find yourself surrounded by stacks of dinnerware, each piece painstakingly decorated by hand with vibrant motifs of flowers, fruits and animals. Joseph Tso, the third-generation owner of the factory, and his small team are among the […]
22 hours ago
Associated Press

Today in History: June 26, first Harry Potter book published

Today in History Today is Sunday, June 26, the 177th day of 2022. There are 188 days left in the year. Today’s Highlight in History: On June 26, 1945, the charter of the United Nations was signed by 50 countries in San Francisco. On this date: In 1917, the first troops of the American Expeditionary […]
22 hours ago
A students joins Indigenous women in a rally to show support for the recent protests and national s...
Associated Press

Ecuador’s government lifts state of emergency amid protests

QUITO, Ecuador (AP) — Ecuadorian President Guillermo Lasso on Saturday lifted a state of emergency he’d imposed in six provinces amid an Indigenous-led strike, a surprise move that came as lawmakers in the National Assembly heard an opposition petition to remove him from office. The decision to end the state of emergency followed an initial […]
22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Rural Nevada county delays approving primary vote results