Fouled Out?


Was Tamara Clark robbed of a seat in the Nevada state Senate by corrupt or incompetent election officials last November? A grand jury may soon decide.

Clark, the Libertarian Party candidate for the second-district seat, expected to win her race against the incumbent Democrat, Majority Whip Ray Shaffer. (There was no Republican in the race.) Three independent polls just before the election gave her a 60 percent to 40 percent lead, and election-day exit polls conducted by local media showed her ahead by that margin.

Then came the absentee ballots. Many absentee ballots. About 6,000 of the 30,000 votes cast were absentee ballots. That was a lot more than had ever been cast in the district before. Shaffer won with 56 percent of the vote.

But certain things seemed curious. The registrar of voters had told checkers to go home at 1:00 a.m. At 3:00 a.m. a box of "just discovered" absentee ballots arrived.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal investigated the story, it found lots of irregularities. Several hundred people who were recorded as having registered and voted said that they didn't vote. Many of them said they weren't even legally entitled to vote for various reasons. Many other Las Vegans said they showed up at polls to vote but were turned away because the records showed they had already voted absentee.

Clark filed an official protest, demanding that her opponent not be seated and that a new election be ordered, but the state Senate turned down her request. Clark plans to challenge that decision in court. In the meantime, the Senate has asked for a grand jury to investigate the electoral system in Clark County to determine if Clark was robbed.