CARSON CITY — A board led by the governor voted unanimously Monday to ask the Legislature to cover the $539,137 cost of the special election on Sept. 13 to fill a vacancy in Congress.
Instead of requiring counties to cover election costs, the state Board of Examiners wants the Legislature to reimburse counties out of its $12 million interim contingency fund.
The Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee will consider the proposal on Aug. 31.
The need for the special election occurred in May when Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Rep. Dean Heller to the U.S. Senate.
Heller replaced John Ensign, who resigned amid a scandal and congressional investigation.
Democrat Kate Marshall, the state treasurer, and Republican Mark Amodei, a former state senator, are vying to fill the last year of Heller’s two-year term in the 2nd Congressional District seat.
The district includes all of Nevada except the Las Vegas metropolitan area.
Secretary of State Ross Miller initially had put the cost of the special election at $1.3 million.
A member of the Board of Examiners, Miller has not asked legislators whether they would approve the election expenditure but noted Monday that counties are cash-strapped and can ill-afford the unforeseen cost. The legislative committee usually approves Board of Examiners’ requests.
Miller said he already has spent $150,000 in federal Help America Vote Act funds for the special election, the first House special election in the state’s history.
The secretary of state would not guess at the turnout for the special election, other than saying it would be "very low." The district has almost 400,000 voters, and campaign sources have estimated that only 20 percent will vote.
If that occurs, then the costs of conducting the election will be slightly less than $7 per vote.
In response to questions by Gov. Brian Sandoval, Miller said he did not want to use Help America Vote Act money on the election because he does not see Congress providing more of these funds to the states.
Much of the money has gone toward buying touch-screen voting machines.
Miller said he anticipated in coming years that Nevada will have to replace all of its touch-screen machines at a cost of $18 million to $20 million.
Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3901.