POLITICAL EYE: Provisional ballots don’t affect races in Nevada

Provisional votes cast by about 3,500 Nevadans on Election Day have been counted. They did not change the outcome of any of the six federal races on the ballot, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Of the 8,329 provisional votes cast, 3,467 were counted after election clerks and registrars re-examined their voter registration records and found their voters’ names.

Provisional ballots were given to people who showed up at the polls but whose names could not be found on registration lists by election workers. These people had to swear they were registered before being given a provisional ballot. By law, they then could vote only in federal races.

President Barack Obama won Nevada by 67,000 votes, so the provisional ballot voting will not affect his race. Dean Heller won the U.S. Senate race by 12,000 votes, while Dina Titus, Mark Amodei, Steven Horsford and Joe Heck won their congressional races respectively by 57,000, 60,000, 19,000 and 20,000 votes.

If provisional votes were counted in legislative races, there is a remote chance they could have reversed the outcome of the state Senate District 15 race, where Greg Brower beat Sheila Leslie by 266 votes, or the District 9 race, where Justin Jones defeated Mari St. Martin by 301 votes.

But if on the average only 400 provisional votes were cast in each state Senate race, then almost all provisional voters would have had to support the losing candidate to change the outcome.

Secretary of state spokeswoman Catherine Lu said last week the final provisional vote total might be slightly higher than the 8,329 figure since some rural counties had not yet reported their provisional votes to her office.

People who cast provisional ballots can call 1-877-766-8683 to find out if their votes were counted.

When they voted by provisional ballot, they were given a receipt, a unique identification number and instructions on how to use the toll-free hotline. The phone system is available in both English and Spanish.

Results of the general election are scheduled to be certified by the state Supreme Court on Nov. 27.

– Ed Vogel

HORSFORD WON’T SLEEP IN OFFICE

Rep.-elect Steven Horsford went to Washington last week for House freshman orientation eager to start from scratch to build the infrastructure of his congressional office.

Horsford, who will represent the new 4th Congressional District, had not yet designated his chief of staff nor done any other hiring. He won’t know until next month where his office will be located or what his committee assignments might be.

But there was one thing of which he was certain: Horsford does not plan to sleep in his office.

"No, that I will not do," he said.

Roughly two-dozen House members elected in 2010 chose to sleep in their offices, according to a CBS News survey in January 2011. Some did it to save money and demonstrate frugality, while others did it to make a point that they did not plan to root themselves in Washington.

Rep. Joe Heck, R-Nev., slept in his office during his first term. A spokesman said he will continue to do so.

When he was a House member, Republican Dean Heller slept in his office. When he was appointed to the U.S. Senate in May 2011, leaders strongly hinted it was not a practice of senators, so he rented an apartment in suburban Virginia.

– Steve Tetreault

SENATE CHAIRS NAMED

To the victor goes the spoils. Because his party retained control of the state Senate by an 11-10 margin, Senate Majority Leader Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, last week named Democrats chairs of the upper house’s 10 committees.

"Not only does this team represent the broad diversity of Nevada, but it also combines the tremendous amount of personal and legislative experience that will benefit all Nevadans," said Denis, the state’s first Hispanic state Senate majority leader.

Sen. Debbie Smith of Sparks will become Senate Finance Committee chairwoman and the assistant majority leader. Smith had been a leading member of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee during a long career in the Assembly before winning a state Senate seat Nov. 6.

Sen. David Parks of Las Vegas will chair the Senate Government Affairs Committee and become state Senate president pro tem. Sen. Ruben Kihuen of Las Vegas becomes chair of the Revenue and Economic Development Committee and the majority whip, while Sen. Kelvin Atkinson of North Las Vegas is the new Commerce and Energy Committee chairman.

Sen. Joyce Woodhouse of Henderson will be Education Committee chair, while Sen. Mark Manendo of Las Vegas chairs the Transportation Committee. Longtime Assembly member and now Sen. Tick Segerblom of Las Vegas will head the Judiciary Committee.

Three new legislators also will become chairs. Sen. Patricia Spearman of North Las Vegas heads the Legislative Operations and Election Committee; Sen. Justin Jones of Las Vegas, the Health and Human Services Committee; and Sen. Aaron Ford of Las Vegas, the Natural Resources Committee. Ford and Jones also will serve as assistant whips.

"We are excited that each committee will be led by a senator with a personal commitment toward these issues," Denis said. "Their leadership will help move Nevada forward and strengthen our schools and our economy."

The only state senator not appointed as a chair was Denis himself. Traditionally majority leaders have appointed themselves to chair a committee, typically the Senate Finance Committee. Denis served as chair of the Education Committee last session and served on the Finance Committee.

By not serving as a committee chairman, he might have more time to devote to majority leader duties.

– Ed Vogel

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901. Contact Stephens Washington Bureau Chief Steve Tetreault at stetreault@stephensmedia.com or 202-783-1760. Follow him on Twitter @STetreaultDC.

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