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It was a bright and not-so-stormy election night for secretary of state

Strategically, my plan seemed brilliant. If the election in Nevada were swamped with problems, where’s the best place to be? Why with Secretary of State Ross Miller, of course. If all hell broke loose, he’d be in the loop and I’d be there.

If only there had been problems. The election process ran smoothly. The problems reported to Miller’s office were more amusing than troublesome.

Diplomacy was called for to explain to the woman who wanted the FBI to come get her and take her to the polls that that wasn’t part of an agent’s job description.

A television network called in a tizzy, wanting to know about police swarming at a particular polling site. Actually, they were there to vote.

My personal favorite: A candidate in a down-ballot race asked the secretary of state to investigate his race because everyone had said they were voting for him, and still he lost. Wasn’t that suspicious and deserving of an investigation? (Actually, no. It’s just proof that people tell you one thing to your face and do another in the privacy of the voting booth.)

A couple of voting cartridges in rural Nevada were misplaced for a while, but all in all, the 2008 election in Nevada was a snore when it came to the actual voting process.

When it became clear that U.S. Sen. Barack Obama was winning the presidency and that Nevada’s five electoral votes were not going to make or break the presidential outcome, the pressure on Miller lifted.

Miller and his spokesman, Bob Walsh, started their day at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday at the secretary of state’s office at the Sawyer Building in Las Vegas, taking calls, watching television reports and schmoozing with the rest of the election task force, which included Assistant U.S. Attorney Paul Padda and FBI agent Michael Elliott. Fewer than 100 calls came in and none was substantial.

When the polls closed at 7 p.m., Miller was off to KLAS-TV, Channel 8 for a live interview, then headed to his suite at the Rio Hotel, where he was setting up his computer and monitoring the election returns through cell phones, BlackBerrys and his own Web site, www.silverstate08.com

Two years earlier, it had been a far more nerve-wracking night as Miller himself was on the ballot in his first bid for public office as secretary of state. He won, becoming the youngest secretary of state in the country at 30.

Now the pressure was different. Any major election process screw-ups would be laid at his feet. If his Web site crashed and nobody could get prompt results, Miller would be blamed and curses from newsrooms around the state would turn the air blue.

Miller had trouble getting his computer to work properly in his suite, but once it was up, the first race he wanted to check was … the justice of the peace for North Las Vegas.

Proving once again that politics is always personal, Miller checked first on the results for his longtime friend, Chris Lee, a deputy in the secretary of state’s office, running for justice of the peace for a second time.

Early voting results showed Lee leading by 10 points and he ultimately won with a 9-point lead. "That’s a landslide," said former Democratic Gov. Bob Miller. The Miller and Lee families watched the returns together in the secretary of state’s suite. Lee is among the few candidates of Korean descent to win elected office in the United States, his dad said proudly.

"We don’t want to jinx ourselves, but things have gone incredibly smooth," Miller told radio listeners at 9:30 p.m. "We ran an election without any irregularities."

And it held true the rest of the night. In Nevada, the votes were all tallied by about 2 a.m. Wednesday. Nothing was left hanging. The secretary of state headed for bed knowing that the first big election night on his watch went without a hitch. His counterparts in a few other states would have been happy to be able to say the same, as results still remain uncertain in several other states.

Did Alaska voters really re-elect U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, despite his corruption conviction? It will take days before the absentee ballots are counted.

But that’s not Ross Miller’s problem.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275.

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