A candidate for Clark County auditor has filed a lawsuit against current Auditor Greg Kimsey over the inclusion of nonpartisan races with two or fewer candidates on the August primary ballot.
On July 21, Brett Simpson announced he filed the suit in Clark County Superior Court against Kimsey, Clark County Elections Supervisor Cathie Garber, and the county as a whole. The suit intends to prevent the county from counting votes in the primary election for the auditor’s race, which features both Simpson and Kimsey.
Simpson argues that because there are only two candidates for the election and the position is nonpartisan, it should not be on the ballot per state law. The auditor’s office went from a partisan to nonpartisan position earlier this year after county voters approved an amendment to the Clark County Charter. The change also affects other elected officials in county government, like the assessor and treasurer.
The lawsuit cites communication between Kimsey and a registered voter who asked about the inclusion of several races for county-level elected positions featuring two or fewer candidates on the primary ballot. Those included the county assessor, auditor, clerk, prosecuting attorney and treasurer. The suit cites state law which states “(n)o primary may be held for any single position in any nonpartisan office if, after the last day allowed for candidates to withdraw, there are no more than two candidates filed for the position.”
The lawsuit requests that votes cast in the primary election for the auditor’s race be disregarded. The suit does not pertain to other county-level races with two or fewer candidates.
“Election integrity matters,” Simpson said in the release announcing the lawsuit. “When our County Auditor openly violates State election laws in his very own election, citizens must stand up and demand transparency and accountability.”
In the lawsuit and in an email to The Reflector, Kimsey said the Clark County Charter law supersedes the state statute. The amendment approved last year states elections for the now nonpartisan offices “shall be conducted in the manner provided for partisan local elections under state law.”
In the email, Kimsey stated all candidates were provided with an election guide which states “(c)ounty offices are nonpartisan but will appear on the primary ballot regardless of the number of candidates filing for the office.”
Kimsey noted that prior to the lawsuit, there were no other candidates for other offices subject to the change who had contacted the county elections office with questions or concerns about the county change.
“Whether a judge orders the Elections Office to not disclose the number of votes cast in the primary for candidates for county offices where there are fewer than three candidates, or does not make that order, the names of those candidates will appear on the general election ballot pursuant to state law,” Kimsey said in the email.
A date for a hearing on the lawsuit had not been scheduled as of The Reflector’s print deadline.