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Opponents of recall say officials failed to follow Nevada law

Updated December 27, 2017 - 11:06 pm

Democrats filed a lawsuit Wednesday in hopes of stopping a special election that could oust an incumbent Democratic state senator, claiming election officials failed to follow the law and that the effort is well short of the needed signatures.

The move was an expected response after the Nevada Secretary of State’s office last week deemed that the recall effort against Cannizzaro could move forward to a special election after skimming by the needed tally by just 43 signatures.

The lawsuit, filed in Clark County District Court, argues that the Secretary of State’s office and Clark County Registrar of voters failed to verify all the submitted signatures, and said both “have completely and inexplicably” ignored the law regarding the state recall process.

It also claims that of those submitted signatures, only 13,000 “appear to be eligible” because some 1,700 signers did not meet the needed requirements to sign the recall petition and 2,225 people have requested their names be removed from the recall petition.

“Much as in Senate District 5 against Senator Joyce Woodhouse, extensive review of the petitions and signature removal forms has found that Republicans are far below the necessary signature threshold, and that they will not be able to surmount the deficit,” Bradley Schrager, attorney for the recall opponents, said in a statement. “We are eager to present our challenge in district court, and have high confidence that the court will halt this abuse of Nevada’s recall laws in its tracks.”

Officials for the Secretary of State’s office and Clark County declined to comment Wednesday evening.

A similar lawsuit was filed after another recall targeting District 5 Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, a Democrat, was verified to go to a special election last month.

Recall efforts have also targeted state Sen. Patricia Farley, I-Las Vegas.

The effort to recall Farley failed, and she has said she will not run for re-election, while the attempt to oust Woodhouse is held up in court over its various legal challenges.

Cannizzaro was elected in 2016 to represent Senate District 6 in the Nevada Legislature. The recall committee submitted 16,875 signatures in November to the county registrar of voters.

If either Woodhouse or Cannizzaro are recalled and a Republican wins Farley’s District 8 seat (Farley was elected as a Republican before switching to Independent mid-term), the GOP could reclaim the majority in the state Senate they lost during the 2016 election.

Since 2004, 150 recall efforts in Nevada have sought to remove elected officials from office. But in that 14-year span, no recall efforts targeting state legislators have succeeded.

Contact Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4638. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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