A Las Vegas, Nevada judge has stunned many by nullifying the results of a Republican candidate winning the primary election, a move that some argue violated a state election law. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Jason Burke defeated Mack Miller in the June 12, primary for state Assembly District 5 by 122 votes.
Two days after Burke’s victory, Clark County District Judge Jim Crockett signed an order declaring the election “invalid” and declared Miller “the rightful winner of the election” because Burke allegedly didn’t properly file his campaign finance reports on time. Several experts have already weighed in on Crockett’s decision, and they disagree big time.
Las Vegas lawyer Daniel Stewart, who specializes in Nevada election laws, said he’s never seen anything like this before.
“This is certainly a novel case that I haven’t seen before,” Stewart said. “But no two election contests are the same, and it seems like every election cycle there’s a new set of facts, new wrinkles to these disputes, but they always pose significant legal and constitutional questions that are difficult to unravel.”
State law says that an election can be contested if the winning candidate either wasn’t eligible to run for office or if illegal or invalid votes were cast or not properly counted.
But the secretary of state’s office told the outlet that a candidate failing to file campaign finance reports on time does not automatically disqualify a candidate.
Lisa Mayo-DeRiso, a consultant for the Burke campaign, said the Judge made a mistake nullifying his election victory.
“The judge made a mistake. You can’t be kicked off the ballot because you didn’t fill out contribution and expense reports. The judge clearly doesn’t know this is not a remedy,” Mayo-DeRiso said.
Crockett held a hearing on Sept. 13, the day after the election, but Burke didn’t show up. He claims he wasn’t notified about the hearing. The Judge set a new hearing for Oct. 18, but early voting for the Nov. 6 general election officially begins on Oct. 20.
Miller, aside from being handed an election victory that he actually lost, is also a controversial figure.
In June, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Miller abandoned his fellow soldiers in combat during the Iraq War. He was reportedly convicted on desertion charges and sentenced to 18 months in an Army prison.
Burke, who is just 24-years-old, not only secured more votes, he also won his election while working as an assistant manager for Sprint.
Burke has submitted his outstanding campaign finance reports and paid fines for the documents being late. But some legal experts fear that Crockett’s ruling may be final.
The entire ordeal, many would agree, has raised serious questions. State law indicates that failing to submit campaign finance reports on time does not disqualify a candidate — so why did Crockett strip Burke of his election victory?
Time will tell what happens next, but a Judge using a non-disqualifying infraction to strip away Burke’s election victory won’t sit well with many.