The state, not the counties, will pay the $539,137 cost of the Sept. 13 special congressional election spawned by disgraced John Ensign’s decision last spring to quit the U.S. Senate. After bickering about the cost Wednesday, members of the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee agreed unanimously to take the money out of their contingency fund, rather than making counties pay for the election.
Secretary of State Ross Miller, the state’s chief election officer, said that the counties had no time to prepare for the special election and that forcing them to cover costs out of their current budgets would pose a hardship. Counties typically pay their own election costs. The election would have cost Clark County about $33,000, according to a June estimate by the elections department.
Under state law, counties were required to submit to the state their tentative budgets for the current fiscal year by April 15. But no one realized there would be an election until Ensign announced on April 21 his decision to leave the Senate in the wake of an ethics scandal. Gov. Brian Sandoval on April 27 appointed Republican Rep. Dean Heller to fill the Senate seat.