Nevada county votes against certifying recount results, move that raises long-term questions

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Commissioners in Nevada’s second-most populous county on Tuesday refused to certify the results of two local recounts of last month’s primary elections, a rare move that could have ramifications for the presidential election in one of the nation’s key swing states.

The three Republican members of the five-member Washoe County Board of Commissioners voted to reject the recount results in one race for a commission seat and another for a local school board seat. What happens next is unclear.

The county election department and the district attorney’s office declined to comment, as did the state attorney general. A request for comment from the secretary of state was not immediately returned.

The rejection of the recounts and questions about how to handle them raised concerns about what could happen in november when a local commission refused to certify the results of the presidential election.

Once seen as a mundane and ministerial task, election certification has become a pressure point since the 2020 election. During the midterm elections two years later, a scenario similar to what played out in Washoe County, New Mexico, after that state’s primary, when a rural county delayed certification of results and admitted only after the Secretary of State appealed to the state Supreme Court.

The vote was first reported by KRNV-TV.

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The certification conflicts are the last election controversy to stir up Washoe County, which includes Reno and its suburbs and has narrowly voted Democrat in the last two presidential elections. Conspiracy theories about voting machines and distrust of election administrators led to intimidation and high staff turnover at the local election office for the past four years. They were also on display at Tuesday’s commission meeting in downtown Reno.

The public commentary was filled with residents alleging irregularities in the election, demanding a manual count of ballots and sometimes making false claims of stolen elections and a “cabal” within the region.

Against this backdrop and the rapid turnover of staff in the elections, the county elections department also made certain administrative errors. For example, it mailed ballots to voters who had opted not to receive them and made errors in the printing of certain local ballots. However, these errors did not affect the count.

Two of the Republican commissioners, Jeanne Herman and Mike Clark, have consistently voted against certifying the results and are supported by the broader movement within the province who promotes election conspiracy theories. Republican Clara Andriola, who was targeted by that movement in the primaries, joined them in voting against certifying the recounts, one of which involved the primary race she won.

“There was a lot of information shared that I think warrants further investigation,” said Andriola, who had not previously voted against certifying the results. She cited several “hiccups” with the election department and referred to public commentators who raised concerns.

She said she appreciated the county election department, but she wanted to submit the certification results to other administrative or judicial bodies, acknowledging that it is not immediately clear what specific entity that will be.

The commission’s two Democratic members voted against rejecting the recount results, changing just one vote in each of the two races. The board had previously voted to certify the other races from last month’s primary in a 3-2 vote, with Andriola voting in favor.

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