Nevada special election to be a ‘free-for-all’

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller announced Monday that the special election for the vacant congressional seat in Nevada’s second district would be what many have called a “free-for-all,” in which any candidate who files a petition to run with the secretary of state’s office is eligible to be on the ballot.

There will be no filing fees for candidates, which Miller does not anticipate will have a major effect on the number of candidates. The usual filing fee, he pointed out, is just $300. That is “extremely low in comparison to what other jurisdictions charge,” he said, and noted that it “probably wasn’t much of a deterrent.”

Miller said that his office estimated the special election would cost “approximately 1.3 million dollars,” and said that most of the costs would be shouldered by the state, something he acknowledged would be a challenge.

“I’m pretty confident that the state will end up paying for most of the costs of the elections,” he said. “Obviously we recognize that the counties don’t have any money. Neither does the state for that matter. This is not a small price tag, and that’s going to be a challenge about how to pay for that election.”

Nevada is in the process of redistricting, and there is question as to whether or not a special election for the second district relies on the old lines of the district, or the not-yet-drawn lines of the new district. Miller said that he expected “that the election will be held based on the boundaries of the existing district,” but noted that, “lawsuits have been filed against me by both political parties seeking an injunction from secretary of state holding any election until those lines are redrawn.”

The process is considered likely to benefit Democrats, by ensuring a fractured Republican field, but Miller said he was unconcerned.

“How the rules may benefit one party or one candidate did not enter into my deliberations whatsoever,” he said, noting he and his office had been “looking at the statutes to try to determine what the legislative intent was.”

He added that whoever felt they had been put at a disadvantage by that interpretation of the rules would likely file suit.

Miller said that while he anticipated a legal challenge, that there was a very limited time frame in which to do so. He said that June 8 was the absolute latest that he would certify the list of candidates, but hoped to do so earlier, and noted that July 30 is the last day to mail ballots to overseas voters.

“We don’t have a lot of time for this to be resolve through the courts,” he said. “Our judicial system, including the Supreme Court, has been incredibly accommodating … but this would be asking them an awful lot.”

“We are very comfortable with our interpretation regarding special elections,” he said.

“Consistent with that law we support Nevadan’s rights to make that decision, and equally comfortable that they’ll do so in a capable, responsible, and informed manner.”

Miller took issue with a reporter referring to the mode of election as a “free-for-all,” calling it “demeaning to the democratic process.

“You might as well call it a ballot royal,” he said. “This is freedom for all to run.”

The decision comes as good news for both Democrats and Tea Partiers, an odd coupling, who were united by their desire for Tea Party candidates to run. Democrats hope for a split Republican field. Tea Party candidates, like Sharron Angle, hope to be able to be on the ticket.

Tea Party Express spokesperson Levi Russell told The Daily Caller that such rules would provide “more transparency” in the election process. Angle, in a fundraising email, decried that “the left wing of the Republican Party,” presumably referring to the central committee, was “already they are behind closed doors, choosing one of their own to be the preferred candidate in the race.”