CARSON CITY — Secretary of State Ross Miller today announced that a special election for Nevada’s Congressional District Two will be open to all candidates.
“You might as well call this a ballot royale,” he said.
Miller’s decision allows for any candidate to be on the ballot for the Sept. 13 election. The state Republican party has favored an interpretation of state law that would allow state parties to pick a single candidate of their choice.
Miller’s decision is widely believed to benefit Democrats in a special election since an open ballot with many Republican candidates could split the vote, allowing a Democratic candidate to win in a congressional district that leans Republican.
Miller announced his decision at a press conference at the Legislature, where he framed his decision with this question about candidates:
“Are they picked by the people of the state of Nevada or instead by a small group of powerful political party officials?”
Miller said a free-for-all election is about the voters, not his affiliation with the Democratic party.
“Our entire system is based on a concept of being inclusive, one that’s open to all citizens,” Miller said.”This interpretation allows open ballot access, freedom for all to run and ultimately it lets the people decide. That electoral structure is as American as apple pie.”
Republicans, however, contend that Miller made a decision based on what would best suit Democratic candidates in the special election.
“Secretary Miller seems to have allowed partisan politics to direct his decision concerning how to conduct the special election in U.S. Congressional District 2,” said Cory Adair of the state Republican party. “The Nevada Republican Party stands firm that state law ensures major party central committees should be the nominating body for their own candidates in a special election.”
A special election became necessary after Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to the U.S. Senate to replace outgoing Republican Sen. John Ensign, who announced his resignation last month. Ensign made his farewell remarks today, and his resignation is effective tomorrow.
Sandoval announced Sept. 13 as the date of the special election, but it was up to Miller to clarify the law as it concerns who is eligible to run for the seat.
Lawsuits from both major political parties are pending and could alter the rules for the election.
Miller said today that any court decision would have to be made by July 15. Otherwise elections officials may not have time to issue ballots to overseas and military voters.
“The bottom line is, we won’t have a lot of time for this to be resolved in the courts,” he said.
A timeline provided by the Secretary of State provides for candidate filings, ballot printings and voter registration deadlines.
Ross Miller asks whether political parties or voters should choose candidates:
050211 Miller :12 “How are those candidates …”
Ross Miller says the process is “as American as apple pie.”
050211 Miller :12 “This interpretation allows open ballot …”