Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010 | 2:20 p.m.
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CARSON CITY - Tea Party of Nevada candidate Scott Ashjian will stay on the ballot as a candidate for U.S. Senate, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled today.
The court rejected an appeal to force Ashjian's name off the ballot because absentee ballots have already been mailed to military and out-of-state voters, and some have been returned. "Thus, under both state and federal statutes, no further changes to absentee ballots are possible," the court said in its unanimous decision.
Republican Senate nominee Sharron Angle met secretly with Ashjian in Las Vegas last week and tried to talk him into dropping out of the race. Angle, who is locked in a tight battle with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, said she believes any votes going to Ashjian could be crucial to her campaign.
The suit was filed by Dan Burdish and Chuck Muth, conservative activists who are members of Citizen Outreach; Anger Is Brewing, a tea party organization; the Independent American Party and other registered voters.
District Judge James Wilson of Carson City denied the petition filed by these groups, which then appealed to the state Supreme Court.
The court said absentee ballots must be ready for distribution no later than 40 days before the election, which is Sept. 23. It said Secretary of State Ross Miller has confirmed some absentee ballots have been returned with votes as have some over-the-counter absentee ballots. And absentee ballots to the military and overseas voters must be distributed before Sept. 18.
Under the law, the court said "Any legal action that would prevent absentee ballots from being distribute is moot and of no effect."
Those who sued argued that only a small percentage of absentee ballots and votes have been distributed and received by county registrars. They also complained that the ballots could be easily programmed because early and election day voting is electronically.