Independent American Party challenges Joe Neal's primary victory

The Independent American Party has asked the Nevada Supreme Court to force State Sen. Joe Neal to face a general election.

Neal was declared elected after getting more than half the votes cast by Democrats in a three-candidate primary race Sept. 5.

Challenger Uri Clinton demanded a recount, but the outcome didn't change: Neal got more than half by a margin of just six votes.

Under a law passed by the 1997 Legislature, when only two candidates are running and both are in the same party, there is no primary election. They face off in the general and all those registered get to vote.

If a candidate faces two or more members of his own party but no other opposition, they face off in the primary. If one candidate gets a majority of the total votes in that primary race, only his name appears on the general ballot - effectively electing him without a general election vote.

This year, Neal, Clinton and Christopher Montanez - all Democrats - were the only candidates running for the North Las Vegas seat Neal has held since 1973.

IAP State Chairman Joel F. Hansen, a Las Vegas lawyer, filed a petition Sept. 26 seeking to force Clark County Voter Registrar Larry Lomax to put Uri Clinton's name on the Nov. 7 general election ballot. Hansen's petition said emergency relief is needed "based upon the fact that, as it now stands, only the name of Joe Neal will be on the general election ballot as the candidate for Senate District 4."

Hansen's petitions says that disenfranchises all Republicans, IAP and other non-Democrats and is, therefore, "an unconstitutional law as it deprives the vast majority of voters in Senatorial District 4 of their sacred right to vote for their Senator in the general election."

Neal got 2,034 votes to Clinton's 1,820 and Montanez's 201 - a total of 4,055. Hansen's petition points out there are 4,582 registered Republicans in the district and 2,919 listing themselves with a minor party or nonpartisan including 406 IAP members. Added to 15,099 Democrats, there are 22,600 voters in the district.

"This means that only 10 percent of all the registered voters in Senatorial District 4 have chosen the next Senator for Senate District 4," he said.

Hansen said the IAP was filing the petition on behalf of its members as well as all the other non-Democrats unable to vote in the primary contest.

He urged the Supreme Court to order Clinton's name be put on the ballot as the second candidate "so that Independent American Party voters in District 4 and other non-Democrats will be re-enfranchised and will have a meaningful opportunity to choose their Senator for the next term of the Nevada State Legislature."

The Supreme Court has not yet set a date to hear the petition.


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