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Washoe County commissioners vote not to certify primary election recounts

Washoe County Interim Registrar Cari-Ann Burgess told reporters that the matter now goes to the Nevada secretary of state.
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Election 2024
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In an unprecedented 3-2 vote Tuesday, Republican Washoe County commissioners Clara Andriola, Mike Clark and Jeanne Herman chose not to make the results of two contested June 9 primary recounts official after an initial motion to certify the election failed. 

The decision followed hours of vitriolic public comment during which dozens of people who opposed the certification alleged there were issues and other problems during the recount process. 

"Given the fact that it's not the first time that we've heard a lot of concerns of procedures, a lot of concerns of alleged mishaps, I think have been a term that’s been used a lot or hiccups … I am not going to certify the vote,” Andriola said. “I believe that it warrants further investigation.”

The decision to not certify the results appears to violate the Nevada Administrative Code, which stipulates that counties have a statutory obligation to certify election results, specifying any recount election “must be canvassed within 5 working days after the completion of the recount.”

Washoe County Interim Registrar Cari Ann Burgess told reporters Tuesday that the matter now goes to the Nevada secretary of state. A spokesperson for the secretary of state did not immediately respond to a request for comment or queries about what happens next.

Andriola, who is considered a swing vote on the five-member county commission which consists of two Democrats and three Republicans, said her decision not to certify the election, including her own winning race, had nothing to do with county staff. She referenced an election violation complaint that she said was filed with the county and said it was vital to address election doubts. 

“I’m not an election denier,” she said. “It’s really to look at the investigative part of the allegations, that in this case, what has formally been filed and I don’t know how many others have formally been filed.”

Officials with Washoe County said this is the first instance they know of where the county has not certified the vote. Asked about the complaint Andriola referenced, county officials said the secretary of state’s office is looking into the matter but did not offer any specifics.

Two of the Republican commissioners who voted not to certify the election — Mike Clark and Jeanne Herman — have connections to far-right election provocateur Robert Beadles, who paid about $150,000 for the three recounts, one of which was canceled after the candidate withdrew her recount request. By contrast, Beadles has criticized Andriola for voting with Democrats and attacked her on his blog and in mailed pamphlets, portraying her as “Clara the Clown.”

Beadles celebrated the vote in a blog post published Tuesday afternoon titled, “We Won A Battle…” He said the decision gives him time for the courts to rule on candidates’ requests for a hand recount and investigate his allegations of voter fraud.

“Today was a victory, well-deserved and well-earned for the people of Washoe County and the candidates,” Beadles wrote. “It’s all due to God, and all of you who wrote or showed up and spoke truth to power. Thank you.”

The decision marks Beadles’ only victory since he helped oust then-sitting Republican Washoe County Commissioner Bob Lucey in favor of Clark.

Republican Washoe County Commissioner Clara Andriola campaigns in Sparks on Election Day on June 11, 2024. (David Calvert/The Nevada Independent)

Unofficially, the recount for the contested elections for County Commission District 4 and School Board Trustee District G yielded the same results as the primary — with Andriola and Perry Rosenstein winning. Andriola carried 43.34 percent of the vote in the commission race, and Perry Rosenstein had 34.64 percent of the votes in the school board election — roughly the same percentages as before the recount.

Under Nevada law, a recount must be conducted in the same manner as the original vote tabulation. Any losing candidate can seek a recount, but state law requires them to front the cost and receive a refund only if the recount changes the outcome in their favor. Recounts can be requested within three working days of the county or statewide canvass and must start within five days of receiving the demand. A recount must be completed within five days once it has commenced.

In a comment earlier in the meeting, Andriola said more transparency is needed in election processes. She said that change needs to take place at the legislative level, expressing support for policies such as allowing for voter identification and alternative methods of conducting recounts.

This story was updated on 7/9/2024 at 5:08 p.m. to include a statement published by Robert Beadles on his blog.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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