Assembly candidate Gardner ruled ineligible due to felony

Mon, Oct 14, 2002 (9:12 a.m.)

Republican Assembly candidate Richard Gardner is not eligible to vote due to a felony conviction, and thus, cannot win his race for Assembly District 14, Clark County officials said Friday.

Gardner is running against three-term Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, a Democrat, and Independent American candidate James "Buffalo Jim" Barrier.

County officials found Gardner's name on the September list of registered felons Metro Police sends monthly to the Clark County Elections Department for review.

The list showed a 1988 conviction in California.

Those who have been convicted of a felony must show proof that their civil rights have been restored in order to register to vote in Nevada.

"We attempted to give them an opportunity to show us that his rights had been restored, but he couldn't, or didn't," Clark County Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax said.

Gardner said it is all a mistake and he never had his right to vote removed after he was convicted in California 15 years ago on a felony sex crime for lewd and lascivious behavior with a child under the age of 14.

"I had a problem," Gardner said. He said he sought counseling at church, but the bishop said it was against the law.

"And on my own, without being caught or anything else, I turned myself in," Gardner said. "I called them and told them what the difficulty was and everything went downhill from there. I was never arrested."

Gardner said the police had a warrant for his arrest, but a judge released him on his own recognizance. He never went to jail or was on parole, but was given probation 15 years ago, Gardner said.

"There's no legal decision that I can't run. It's all presumption," Gardner said, adding he would pursue legal action. Court records from 1988 have been destroyed, he said.

Officials found Gardner's felony too late to remove him from the ballot for the Nov. 5 general election.

If he wins the race, the county will sue to invalidate the results, officials said.

"That gives me a better shot," Barrier said.

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