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Judge denies two GOP attempts to void Clark County election results

Updated November 20, 2020 - 6:45 pm

A Clark County district court judge on Friday denied two attempts by Republicans to overturn the county’s Nov. 3 election, while a second judge allowed two other cases to continue during an all-day marathon of election challenges in Nevada’s most populous county.

A defeated Republican candidate in a fifth case also decided to drop her lawsuit on Friday afternoon.

Judge Gloria Sturman denied defeated congressional candidate Jim Marchant’s attempt to force the county into a new election in the state’s 4th Congressional District, citing numerous issues.

She then ruled against a similar challenge lodged by former assemblywoman and Senate candidate Sharron Angle’s Election Integrity Project Nevada, which sought to overturn the entire state’s election results.

Meanwhile, District Court Judge Elizabeth Gonzales delayed her judgment on a third case, this one filed late Thursday on behalf of a defeated Republican Assembly candidate, to give the county time to file a motion to dismiss.

In another hearing, Gonzales allowed Democrat Ross Miller’s challenge of the Clark County Commission’s decision to hold a new election in District C, which Miller purportedly won by just 10 votes, to continue into next week.

Finally, the plaintiff in a fifth case — defeated Republican State Senator candidate April Becker — dismissed her case against the county and her opponent, Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro.

Becker was represented by the same lawyer as Marchant and made nearly identical claims in her lawsuit. She lost the contest for the State Senate’s 6th District by just 631 votes.

Marchant case

Sturman reached her decision after hearing arguments from Marchant’s attorney, Craig Mueller, County Counsel Mary-Anne Miller and Washington attorney Kevin Hamilton, who intervened against Marchant on behalf of the Democratic National Committee and Nevada State Democratic Party.

Sturman said her decision revolved around the fact her court does not have jurisdiction over the six other counties in the 4th District, where Rep. Steven Horsford, a Democrat, defeated Marchant, a Republican.

“We are leaving out six other counties in regards to an election of a congressional representative and I just don’t see how I can do that,” she said.

Mueller had contended that Clark County Registrar Joe Gloria had failed in his duties to administer the election for a variety of reasons, including his use of a machine to verify mail ballot signatures and an allegation of improperly sending ballots to inactive voters, which was not done in the general election — only the June primary election.

Miller and Hamilton disassembled these claims at length, noting among other arguments that congressional races can not be contested in state court under Nevada statute and many of these alleged fraud claims have already been dismissed by a state court during previous litigation.

Sturman agreed with many of the county and Democrats’ arguments before rendering her judgment. She also noted that while Marchant lost the race by about 16,000 votes, he lost in Clark County by about 33,000 — a large margin that Marchant would have to prove was invalid.

Angle case

Sturman denied a request by a conservative group to void the election in Nevada over claims of widespread fraud.

Election Integrity Project Nevada, backed by Angle, had sought a preliminary injunction seeking to block the state from certifying the election results.

Attorney Joel Hansen argued that Assembly Bill 4, which authorized sending mail ballots to all registered voters in the state, was unconstitutional and opened the door for fraudulent voting. Hansen said his client had found 8,000 voters who should not have been able to cast a ballot and 1,400 voters who were also registered to vote in California.

“Here’s the harm on my side of the issue, and that is that we are losing our democracy,” Hansen said. “We don’t know if the election result is honest. We don’t know if it is the real election result. Our votes are being diluted because we don’t know how many fraudulent votes are being cast.”

He also said the figures he provided to the court were merely a representative sampling of so-called illegal voting.

But Sturman said there was no proof of fraud and she could not make the leap from potential irregularities in a small sample size to throwing out an entire election where 1.4 million people cast a ballot.

“To throw out an election based on what-ifs is a really extreme request here,” she said.

Sturman conceded that “nobody has said maybe there aren’t problems with this system,” but noted that there were remedies to address any wrongdoing through criminal prosecution.

Calling the request to void the election “a shocking ask,” she also underscored how there was no evidence that enough votes were improperly cast to change any results in the election besides potentially the tight contest in Clark County Commission District C.

Despite denying the preliminary injunction, Sturman said the case was not dismissed, with further arguments on the complaint still pending.

“All evidence shows that Nevada’s election was fair, safe, and secure, and time and again, the Court has agreed,” Attorney General Aaron Ford said in a statement following the ruling. “Nevadans voted and chose their president-elect. It’s time to move on.”

County commission lawsuit

Also Friday, Gonzales held a brief hearing in Miller’s case. Miller’s attorney, Dominic P. Gentile, asked Gonzales for the opportunity to collect a deposition from Gloria, the county registrar, and to meet with Mary-Anne Miller, the county counsel, next week to discuss next steps.

The two attorneys also agreed to a stipulation stating the county will not proceed with its special election until the court case is resolved.

Gonzales agreed to the terms.

The hearing started before its published start time and was nearly over when Mark Hutchison, an attorney for Ross Miller’s Republican opponent, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony, interjected to formally intervene on Anthony’s behalf.

Gentile objected to Anthony’s inclusion as a defendant, which Gonzales overruled. She scheduled another hearing for Dec. 4 to review whatever motions the parties, which now include Anthony, decide to file.

Another lawsuit filed

A fourth Mueller-filed lawsuit, similar to those filed on behalf of Marchant, Becker and congressional candidate Dan Rodimer, was also filed against the county Thursday night on behalf of defeated State Assembly candidate Cherlyn Arrington, a Republican.

Arrington lost her bid for the 21st District to Democrat Elaine Marzola by about 1,200 votes. All of the 21st is located within Clark County.

According to court records, Gonzalez also held a brief hearing on Friday afternoon in this case. She set a hearing to discuss a motion to dismiss the case for Dec. 4.

Contact Rory Appleton at rappleton@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0276. Follow @RoryDoesPhonics on Twitter. Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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