By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
City Council seat 4 candidate Jolene Gardner filed her request for a recounting of the votes from the city’s general election on Wednesday afternoon. The decision came after the current city council canvassed the votes on Monday inside the armory, leaving both candidates Gardner and her opponent Michael O’Brien just 72 hours to file for a recount.
According to City Attorney Chuck Odgers, the recount process will begin at 8 a.m. at the Armory on Friday morning. If the result of the recount ends in a tie again, then either candidate will have the option to challenge the result in district court or determine the winner by “lot” draw as per the Nevada Revised Statute on election ties.
In that event, a tie breaker has been set by County Clerk Nichole Baldwin for June 30 to take place on the County Courthouse steps at “high noon.” The winner of the race would then be determined by who draws a high value card out of a deck of 52 playing cards.
Despite losing his race, City Councilman Marty Westland will continue with the council in the board’s fourth seat until the tie for the seat is resolved.
The current members of the council held a special meeting inside the Armory on Monday to canvass the results of the election and make them official. While the council voted unanimously (Derbidge did not vote as he was not present at the meeting) to accept the votes, several council members rose concerns over a small portion of ballots that might have been cast by people that live outside of the city. Councilman Westland went as far as to called the election “flawed” and called for the members of the council, both current and incoming, to look into the problem before the next election.
The problem, which councilwoman Tammy Carlgren pointed out in the meeting, was that residents from the county who had an old city address still listed at City Hall were potentially able to cast ballots in the city election, even if they are no longer city residents. Westland elaborated further that he had heard after the election from one potential voter that the man who lived within city limits was turned away from voting because the piece of land he lived on was “zoned” as part of the county. Westland said that while one person who lived on this “county island in the city” was not allowed to vote, other that lived on the same zoned land were.
City Attorney Chuck Odgers said in the meeting that any challenges to the inelegibility of the election voters would have had to come before or during the election itself, and that little could be done to challenge the results of the election now, other than having the individual candidates take the issue to court.
A vote recount for any of the four city races, including the seat 4 tie, can be requested by either candidate involved in a race up to 72 hours after the votes were canvassed, which would fall on Thursday. According to Baldwin, there have been none requested as of press time.