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Nebraska Supreme Court Rejects Effort to Overturn Saline County Commissioner’s Election

on Tuesday, 2 April 2024 in Dirt Alert: David C. Levy, Editor

In August 2022, Chuck McKay sued the Saline County Clerk and all five Saline County Commissioners.  He sought to overturn the May 2022 election for Saline County’s District 1 Commissioner. 

According to McKay, after he filed as a candidate, the Clerk unilaterally added 74 homes to his district.  McKay then lost by 10 votes.  McKay alleged the Saline County Board of Commissioners did not approve the additional 74 homes until after the election.  But for the additional 74 homes, McKay claimed, he would have won the election.

McKay also claimed the Clerk’s actions were void because she lived outside Saline County.  McKay sought “declaratory” or “equitable” relief naming him the rightful Commissioner.

On the County’s motion, the District Court dismissed McKay’s lawsuit for failure to comply with Nebraska’s election contest statutes.  The Nebraska Supreme Court affirmed.

The court held McKay’s complaint was fundamentally an election contest, not a declaratory action.  The nature of his request was to contest the election.  All of his allegations turned on that request.

McKay, however, failed to comply with the election statutes’ requirements.  For instance, to initiate a county-level election contest, a contesting party must notify “the person whose election is contested within twenty days after the votes have been officially canvassed.”  Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32‑1109(1).  McKay did not timely notify the Commissioner whose seat he contested. 

The Nebraska Supreme Court thus affirmed the judgment below.  That said, the court added a warning: “nothing we have said should be construed as endorsing the propriety of the circumstances and the actions by public officials in Saline County as alleged in McKay’s complaint, if true.”

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