Washoe County Commission Chair Alexis Hill, a Democrat, announced Wednesday afternoon that the commission would reconsider its decision not to certify the primary election recount results, as requested by Republican Commissioner Clara Andriola, who had voted against the certification earlier this week.

The commission’s reconsideration of the canvass of the votes will take place July 16. The announcement follows an unprecedented 3-2 vote Tuesday, in which the commission’s three Republican commissioners chose not to certify the results of the recounts. The two Democratic members of the commission voted to certify the election.

“Cooler heads have prevailed, and Commissioner Andriola emailed me this morning to ask for reconsideration of the canvass recount vote to be placed on the agenda,” Hill told The Nevada Independent. “This vote was a violation of our Democratic norms and the canvass is actually a statutory requirement.”

Considered a swing vote on the five-member county commission, Andriola, who was appointed by Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo, said during Tuesday’s meeting that her decision not to certify the election, including her own winning race, had to do with alleged “concerns of mishaps.” She cited an election violation complaint that she said was filed with the county. Officials with the secretary of state have not confirmed or responded to questions about the complaint.

In a text message responding to a request for information about her change of mind, Andriola said she has no further comments to add to Hill’s Wednesday announcement because the agenda item is still pending.

Though a revote will take place, Athar Haseebullah, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, told The Nevada Independent on Wednesday that clear guidance is needed about what would occur if a county refuses to fulfill its obligation to certify a vote.

“If I was the secretary’s office or the attorney general, I’d be filing a case right now regardless of whether or not they’re revoting to ensure that that guidance is clear. These counties are acting recklessly when it comes to the law,”  Haseebullah said. “Individual county commissioners shouldn’t be empowered to hold up an entire election cycle, and that’s exactly what they’re doing there.”

He described Andriola’s last-minute decision to change her mind as “absolutely shocking and disgraceful,” adding that it also confuses voters and spreads more election denialism.

“You can’t vote to undermine [the election] one day, and then next week, vote to change it,” Haseebullah said. “In effect, all that’s going to happen now is their election denialism movement is going to end up shouting again about how they’re martyrs.”

During Tuesday’s meeting, dozens of people who opposed the certification alleged there were issues and other problems during the recount process. Among those opposing the certification was far-right activist Robert Beadles, who paid about $150,000 for three recounts. One of the recounts was canceled after the candidate withdrew her recount request. 

Nevada law specifies that a recount must be conducted in the same manner as the original vote tabulation. Any losing candidate can seek a recount, but state law requires them to front the cost and receive a refund only if the recount changes the outcome in their favor. Recounts can be requested within three working days of the county or statewide canvass and must start within five days of receiving the demand. A recount must be completed within five days once it has commenced.

Under Nevada Administrative Code, counties have a statutory obligation to certify election results, specifying any recount election “must be canvassed within 5 working days after the completion of the recount.”

Hill described the opposition as a “minority of [Washoe County’s] population” calling for a hand count (which was not possible during the recount) and spreading misinformation.

“I’m very supportive of making sure that folks who have concerns, they can get them out and that they can be researched,” Hill said. “I’m very proud of our office, and I hope that this vote doesn’t muddy the water for our community members.”

This story was updated 7/10/2024 at 3:44 p.m. to include a statement from Commissioner Clara Andriola.

This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.

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