Nevada county votes against certifying recount results of 2 local primaries

Commissioners in Washoe County, Nevada’s second most populous county, refused Tuesday to certify the results of local recounts from two June primaries, an unusual move that may have implications for the presidential race in one of the nation’s battleground states.

The three Republican members on the five-member Washoe County Board of Commissioners voted to reject the results of the recounts in one race for a commission seat and another for a local school board seat. It’s not clear what will happens next.

There’s been no comment from the county elections department, the district attorney’s office or 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 it raised concerns about what might happen in November should a local commission refuse to certify the presidential election results.

Election certification used to be a fairly dry, ministerial event, but since the 2020 elections, it has turned into a pressure point. During the midterm elections two years later, a scenario similar to what’s happening in Washoe County occurred in New Mexico after that state’s primary, when a rural county delayed certification of the results and relented only after the secretary of state appealed to the state’s supreme court.

The Washoe County vote was first reported by KRNV-TV.

The certification standoff is the latest election controversy to roil the county, which includes Reno and its suburbs and has narrowly voted for the Democrat in the last two presidential contests. Conspiracy theories about voting machines and distrust of election administrators have led to harassment and high turnover in the local election office the past four years. They also were on display Tuesday during the commission meeting in downtown Reno.

The public comments were filled by residents who alleged irregularities in the election, demanded a hand-count of ballots and sometimes spouted false claims of stolen elections and a “cabal” within the county.

Against that backdrop, and rapid election staff turnover, the county elections department has also made certain administrative mistakes, like sending mail ballots to voters who had opted out of receiving them and misprinting certain local sample ballots, though none that affect tabulation.

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

“There’s a lot of information that has been shared that in my opinion warrants further investigation,” said Andriola, who had not previously voted against certifying results. She referenced several “hiccups” by the elections department and referenced public commenters who raised concerns.

She said she was appreciative of the county elections department but wanted to take the certification results to other governing or judicial bodies. She acknowledged that it is not immediately clear which particular entity that will be.

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

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