Gary Schmidt is demanding a new election in state Senate District 16, saying the Secretary of State’s office is responsible for errors that could have cost him the race.
Schmidt was defeated in the primary for the south Reno-Carson City seat by incumbent Republican Ben Kieckhefer, 56-44 percent, 7,319 votes to 5,698.
Schmidt filed a four-page demand with the Attorney General’s office, Secretary of State election division and elections officials in both Carson City and Washoe County
He argued the results should be vacated and a new election held because he was labeled as “disqualified” on the Secretary’s website for the first four days of early voting. Carson District Judge Jim Wilson disqualified Schmidt on grounds he didn’t actually live in the district, but the Nevada Supreme Court stayed that ruling pending a July hearing into the rules regarding residency.
“The difference in vote count between the two candidates is reported to have been less than the number of persons that voted during the four day early voting period,” Schmidt said, adding the “disqualified” label undoubtedly decreased the number of votes he received.
He also complained the Secretary of State failed to send out press releases stating his candidacy wasn’t disqualified and they could vote for him.
He charged the Attorney General’s Office and Secretary of State’s office are biased against him, expediting the attempt to remove his name from the ballot. He charged Kieckhefer’s $4,000 contribution to AG Adam Laxalt’s campaign biased Laxalt’s office against him.
“There is simply no way to determine or evaluate how much of a negative effect that misdeeds of false information published and not retracted by the SoS had on the outcome of the election,” he said, arguing the only way to fix the situation is a new election.
Schmidt quoted a Nevada Supreme Court ruling from years ago stating “the fundamentals of suffrage require that electors shall have the opportunity to participate in elections and that the real will of the electors should not be defeated by errors in the conduct of an election.”
Wayne Thorley, elections deputy for the Secretary of State’s office, said his office isn’t convinced Schmidt has a valid case.
“We have no reason to believe any materials on the Secretary of State’s website materially prejudiced Mr. Schmidt’s candidacy,” he said.
Aubrey Rowlatt, elections deputy for the Carson City Clerk Recorder’s office, said she has no plans to react to Schmidt’s demand until they get some direction from the Secretary of State.
As for the cost, neither Thorley nor Rowlatt said they have any real idea what a re-election would cost and no plans to work out an estimate at this point.
Wilson ruled noting Schmidt admitted he didn’t actually live at the Reindeer Lodge on the Mount Rose Highway because the building’s roof collapsed under heavy snow in the winter of 2016-2017. The judge also pointed out Schmidt had put the property up for sale and didn’t have an address in District 16.
The Supreme Court stayed that order and set a July 9 hearing on the issue. But that hearing was vacated after Schmidt lost the primary vote.
Schmidt ran against Kieckhefer four years ago as well, losing in that primary by a 2-to-1 margin.