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Some veteran public officials seeking re-election have been blocked from serving new terms because the state Supreme Court has upheld term limits in a ruling delivered just one day before the start of Nevada's early voting.

A pair of rulings Friday mean no votes can be counted for 21 incumbents in local or state government service who have hit a voter-mandated limit of 12 years of service.

They include Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, a 27-year fixture on the powerful commission who already has spent more than $200,000 in his bid for another term. Others affected include two state university system regents, and several school and town board members around Nevada.

Since ballots were already printed for the start of early voting on Saturday, no changes in listed candidates could be made.

"The ballots are all going to contain these names," Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax said. "What we're going to have to do is post signs at all the polling places explaining which candidates are out."

The high court said the Nevada Constitution "plainly states" that officials can't serve more than 12 years, under terms of the term limits approved by voters in 1996.

However, 13 longtime state legislators escaped the immediate effect of the ruling. The voter mandate took effect a few weeks after the November 1996 elections, when a final vote canvass made the results official. State legislators elected that year took office the day after the election, and the Supreme Court said in a separate ruling that the mandate can't apply retroactively to them.


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