Updated December 15, 2020 - 3:48 pm
Democrat Ross Miller was certified by the Clark County Commission on Tuesday as the victor in a tightly contested and fiercely disputed race for commissioner after a weeklong recount did not tilt the outcome in his opponent’s favor.
County lawmakers unanimously agreed to certify the results of the recount, showing that Miller defeated Republican Las Vegas Councilman Stavros Anthony by 15 votes. Anthony had filed to re-examine the election tally after losing by 10 votes in the initial count in November.
The recount certification came without any commentary from commissioners, and Anthony’s campaign is looking ahead to a hearing in county District Court on Friday, where it is seeking a writ of mandate to force the all-Democrat commission to hold a new election.
“We believe the commission did have discretion to order a new election in the (District C) race, and that it was proper to do so, that it should have done so and that it must do so now,” Anthony campaign attorney Jacob Reynolds told county lawmakers Tuesday.
The campaign has argued that commissioners should never have certified the initial count because 139 identified voting discrepancies had exceeded the margin of victory. It pointed to an admission by county Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria that the discrepancies, while not uncommon, had cast doubt on the outcome because the race was so close.
The commission initially opted not to certify the November count and directed Gloria to return with options for a special election. Miller, a former secretary of state, sued the board, and when it became clear they planned to reconsider, Anthony’s campaign sought a court order to block them.
But District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzalez disagreed with the premise argued by Anthony’s lawyers to show the councilman was entitled to a revote. The discrepancies had not “prevented” the election, she said, which is a standard required by state statute to launch a new election.
Guided by that legal argument, the commission certified the results, leading Anthony to request a recount. After five days of working 4 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. last week, county election staff and volunteers reported that Miller had won by 30 votes. But it was determined that there were duplicate ballots included in that tally, and once they were tossed, Miller’s lead was cut to 15.
On Tuesday, Gloria said that early voting and Election Day totals were “a complete match” between the initial tally and the recount once duplicate ballots were removed, meaning that the recount was certifiable.
Anthony not done
After the recount results were announced Friday, Miller released a statement to thank election staff and volunteers who worked long days “to uphold my victory.”
“Now, I’m focused on getting to work speeding our recovery from COVID and assisting my new colleagues in their vital efforts to restore our economy,” he said.
But Anthony’s campaign, left with only legal avenues as a potential remedy, signaled it did not plan to give up without a fight. It has said it will push its case all the way up to the Nevada Supreme Court if necessary.
“We will say it again, it’s possible those 139 discrepancies could significantly be in favor of Stavros and result in him being the next commissioner in District C,” the campaign said in a statement Tuesday. “Because of this razor-thin margin and the inability to accurately call the election, we will continue with the fight for District C voters to have all their votes counted, and the accurate results to be reported.”