Las Vegas Sun

June 18, 2024

Court hears dispute over 15-vote margin in Las Vegas case

Stavros Appointed Mayor Pro Tempore

Wade Vandervort

Newly appointed Mayor Pro Tempore Stavros Anthony speaks to media after a City of Las Vegas council meeting adjourns at City Hall, downtown, Wednesday, July 8, 2020.

Click to enlarge photo

Ross Miller attends his first meeting after being sworn in as a Clark County Commissioner at the Clark County Government Center, Monday, Jan. 4, 2021.

An attorney for a Republican candidate who lost a Las Vegas-area election by 15 votes asked the state Supreme Court on Wednesday to order a revote, citing a finding by the county elections chief that the discovery of 139 unspecified “discrepancies” made it impossible for him to certify the result.

However, a lawyer for Ross Miller, the Democratic candidate now serving on the Clark County Commission, argued that GOP candidate Stavros Anthony incorrectly invoked a state law covering the prevention of an election instead of filing a contest-of-election.

For that reason, attorney Bradley Schrager noted, a state court judge in Las Vegas rejected Anthony’s bid for a new election.

As Schrager urged the seven Supreme Court justices to uphold that ruling or risk chaos after every close election, Chief Justice James Hardesty interrupted to frame the issue with a question.

“It would seem like the interpretation being urged in this case, when applied to almost any election in which these discrepancies occurred, would result in every election being redone,” Hardesty said.

Schrager agreed. “It would introduce an instability into the Nevada election system that is utterly intolerable going forward,” he said.

The court did not make an immediate ruling following oral arguments held by internet hookup with three justices in Carson City and four in Las Vegas.

Attorney Michael Wall, representing Anthony, focused repeatedly on an affidavit from Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria, whose office identified 139 vote discrepancies among more than 153,000 ballots cast in the race.

Gloria said he could not say why numbers of voters and votes counted did not match in some precincts. He said the discrepancies weren't fraud, but might have stemmed from inadvertently canceled votes or polling place voter check-in errors.

Schrager attributed them to inevitable human error.

“We don’t know who won the election,” Wall insisted. He noted that the number of discrepancies far exceeded the vote difference between Miller and Anthony.

Gloria, who certified the result of all other races in Clark County, swore in court documents that he had “reasonable doubt” about the outcome in the Miller-Anthony race.

“I cannot certify that the vote is an accurate representation of the will of the voters in that district,” the election chief said.

The conduct and results of November elections in Clark County, the state’s most populous area including Las Vegas, were closely scrutinized by state and national Republican party officials and the campaign of former President Donald Trump.

State officials said the process was safe and fair and several state and federal judges heard court challenges. None found widespread voter fraud, and cases have been dismissed.

Miller, a former Nevada secretary of state, joined six other Democrats on the commission when he was sworn in in January.

Anthony is a Las Vegas City Councilman and former Las Vegas police captain. His campaign funded an $80,000 recount that expanded Miller’s margin of victory, originally reported to be 10 votes, to 15 votes.

Most justices asked questions during the oral arguments hearing. None addressed whether votes taken and decisions made by Miller on the Clark County Commission could be challenged if a new election is ordered.