With great help from our Registrar of Voters, Deanna Spikula, I have an understanding of what happened regarding the vote count in the Washoe County Assessor’s race.
What I Learned
The story is simpler than I imagined. The last post of the vote count, the one posted around 0320 hrs the morning after election day that turned my 1825-vote lead into a 537-vote loss (a 2362-vote swing), was composed entirely of nearly 20,000 absentee and mail in ballots received.
Historically, as a group, absentee and mail in voters are older, more conservative and more Republican, so the negative impact on my race seems feasible. The earlier vote count included the late reporting polls in Cold Springs and Sun Valley.
I have no suspicions or evidence of either error, fraud or corruption in this election. While I lament the polls in Cold Springs and Sun Valley had long lines at closing time, and my staff observed many people walking away to escape the cold, I have no reason to believe the outcome of my race would have changed had they stayed.
So, I will not be pursuing a recount. While there have been clear efforts at voter suppression in our state, we are fortunate in Nevada to have had little evidence of voter fraud or election tampering.
Our Campaign Accomplishments
Despite my personal disappointment and regrets that I let down you and the many voters who wanted a change in the Assessor’s office, I encourage you to take the big view of our campaign.
- We came very, very close (537 votes out of 182,977 cast) to besting a wealthy, largely self-funded Republican incumbent.
- At election time, our county had a 5,176 Republican voter registration advantage.
- We lost by 0.29%, less that a third of a percent.
- He self-funded his campaign to the tune of nearly $50K of his $60K raised and gathered only 40 donor companies and individuals.
- We raised more than $38K from well over 200 donations. I believe that we raised more than any previous Assessor general election candidate not named Mike Clark.
I learned some disturbing facts in this process I want to share with you. Recent election law changes:
- Removed mandatory recounts — no matter the margins
- Require all recounts be paid for in advance by the person requesting them
- Made it so people can no longer request a targeted recount of specific precincts or polling places – it’s the whole county or nothing.
This last provision drives the cost of a recount up substantially, although there is a provision for the elections office to pay that cost if a serious error is uncovered in the process. In the case of this Assessor’s race, the Registrar estimated the cost to my campaign would be thousands and thousands of dollars.
I also learned that, unlike every Assessor’s office I contacted (Denver, Boise, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas), Washoe has no ethics or conflict of interest provisions for assessors or office staff.
All these things deserve scrutiny and corrective action.
Thank you to those who rushed to offer encouragement and financial assistance for a recount. I appreciate your support. I have some unfinished business as a result of this campaign. I may be back in touch asking for your support in the coming months.
With immense gratitude,
P.S. If you’re able to make a small donation toward the campaign’s final expenses and some pending legal work, it would be a help. Thank you.