Nevada electors on track to vote Monday, lawsuit delayed

CARSON CITY - A federal court lawsuit against Nevada's electoral voting system was delayed Wednesday, keeping the state's four Republican presidential electors on track to cast ballots Monday for George W. Bush.

U.S. District Judge David Hagen of Reno denied attorney Carter King's bid for a restraining order against the electors, saying King's request wasn't properly filed.

The order doesn't prevent King from filing an amended complaint - but there's less time for consideration of his efforts to block the voting and get a hearing on his claim that Nevada's ''winner-take-all'' electoral system is unconstitutional.

The 17-page lawsuit, filed Tuesday, also seeks a ruling to block Nevada's electoral process in the 2004 presidential elections, even if this year's voting stays on schedule.

Secretary of State Dean Heller, who will oversee the electoral voting in his office, said he's not taking any chances even though King's lawsuit was delayed. Heller plans to have his legal counsel on hand Monday to help deal with any last-minute courtroom developments.

''Things are going forward on Monday - unless I get an injunction from the federal court,'' Heller said of the scheduled voting for the Texas governor. Nevadans favored Bush over Vice President Al Gore 49.5 percent to 46 percent in Nov. 7 voting.

Defendants named in the lawsuit include Heller; GOP Gov. Kenny Guinn; and the four Republican electors picked at the GOP state convention earlier this year: state Sen. Bill Raggio of Reno, former Assemblywoman Jane Ham of Las Vegas, and longtime GOP activists Edwina Prior of Reno and Peggy Wutke of Las Vegas.

But Prior has since been replaced by Trudy Hushbeck, northern Nevada director for the state GOP; and Wutke was replaced by longtime GOP activist Tom Wiesner of Las Vegas.

Wiesner, named an elector just last week, echoed the other electors' earlier promises to vote for Bush and not be ''faithless electors.''

Asked whether any Democrats had urged him to switch, Wiesner said Wednesday, ''No one would even consider talking to me about that.'' Wiesner's GOP history include 16 years as a national committeeman.

The commitment by the electors to cast their ballots in line with the state's voters mirrors a pattern kept by every Nevada elector since statehood - except one, A.S. Peck of Aurora, who died before he could vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1864.

Elsewhere in the nation, there have been several renegades over two centuries who broke from their states and voted the way they wanted. George Wallace got a vote that way in 1968, Ronald Reagan picked up one in 1976 and even Lloyd Bentsen got one that should have gone to his running mate, Michael Dukakis, in 1988.

None of the defections changed the course of an election, and no elector has been prosecuted criminally.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment