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Court should uphold residency rules

Nevada Appeal editorial board

A case questioning the residency of Ely’s mayor ought to be a slam dunk for the Nevada Supreme Court.

Robert Miller was elected mayor in 2002 despite the fact he had lived outside the city for two years.

There are extenuating circumstances: Miller was being elected to a second term, so it wasn’t like he was an outsider trying to squeeze into City Hall through the back door. A resident of Ely for 30 years, he moved outside the city limits to care for his ailing mother and said he intended to return to town when he could.

In fact, he moved back into Ely five months before his second term started. It was just a couple of days after the deadline for residency, which requires that a candidate be a resident 30 days before filing for office and a year before he can hold the office.

Unfortunately for Miller, none of the circumstances matters.

The state constitution and election laws are clear on the establishment of residency. The argument put forth that Miller satisfied the requirements because of his “intent” to resume his Ely residency just doesn’t hold water.

The case wouldn’t matter much outside Ely except for the potential to disrupt the rules for elected offices and, a real nightmare, voter registration throughout Nevada.

As Carson City Clerk Alan Glover noted, there can be no gray areas. “You either live in a location or not, because we can’t interpret intent,” he said.

The Supreme Court should move swiftly to uphold the letter of the law, which also means removing Miller from office. It’s up to the Ely City Council to decide how to pick a new mayor.

We expect, though, that after Jan. 10 – the one-year anniversary of Miller moving back into town – the council will simply reappoint Miller. Voters, after all, were well aware of who they were getting.