Rural Nevada county postpones accepting primary vote results

Rural Nevada county postpones accepting primary vote results

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Commissioners plan for hand recount

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Elected officials in a rural Nevada county decided Thursday 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.

In Nevada’s Esmeralda County, Commission Chairman De Winsor and Vice-Chairman Timothy Hipp responded to complaints from the audience 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 was asked to sign off on 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 have until 11:59 p.m. Friday 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 votes that county Clerk LaCinda Elgan said were tallied by machine.

Lawyers at the Nevada Attorney General’s Office were researching details in state law Thursday afternoon for guidance on what the next steps would be if a county refused to certify the results by Friday’s deadline, spokesman John Sadler said. He said to his knowledge, that has never happened before in Nevada.

The standoff in Nevada’s least populated county came a week after lawmakers in rural New Mexico’s Republican-leaning Otero County stalled before splitting their vote and approving election results there. Officials there cited unspecified concerns with Dominion voting systems, a target of widespread conspiracy theories since the 2020 presidential election.

The Democratic secretary of state in New Mexico had appealed that state’s Supreme Court to intervene, and two commissioners who relented complained that they felt they were little more than rubber stamps.

“We’ve got a problem. People don’t trust the system,” resident Mary Jane Zakas told the commissioners in Esmeralda County, a former mining boom area about halfway between Las Vegas and Reno that is now home to fewer than 1,000 residents.

“We’ve got a situation where a lot of people are really concerned about the safety of their votes,” Zakas said.

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

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