State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Category: Nevada

NV: Automatic Voter Registration Place on the Ballot Following the Governor’s Veto

By: Charles Truxillo

On March 21, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed the state’s effort to establish an automatic voter registration system through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. If enacted, the the DMV’s voter registration would convert to a compulsory system rather than its current volunteer-based model. After a partisan split, the Governor sided with state Republicans and blocked the bill. The Governor’s veto is not final, as the initiative will now move to a statewide vote in the 2018 election.

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Nevada’s Luck Runs Out: Voting Rights Case Remanded to District Court

By: Kelsey Carpenter

An interesting case has just been remanded back to the United States District Court of Nevada by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called National Council of La Raza v. Cegavske (2015) regarding the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Specifically the plaintiffs challenge Nevada’s following of Section 7 of the NVRA. Section 7 states that voter registration opportunities must be provided by all offices that handle public assistance and services to disabled populations. This provision of the NVRA exists to protect previously disenfranchised low-income voters from being unable to register to vote.

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NRS 304

A way to quickly replace Congressmen in the event of a terrorist attack or give Democrats a Nevada Republican stronghold?

by Kaitan Gupta

In the world of battleground elections, Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District never received much attention nor should it have.  Since its creation after the 1980 census, it has always been represented by a Republican.  1992 was the only time the Republican candidate did not receive more than 50% of the vote and yet that year Republican Congressman Vucanovich still won the election by more than 12,000 votes/4 points.  The Democrats thought they were closing the gap in the District in 2008 when Senator McCain only won the District by 88 votes, but popular Congressman Dean Heller proved too popular in this conservative District where he widened his “narrow” 12,575 vote/5 point win in 2006 to a 44,000 vote/10 point win in 2008 and a 82,000/30 point win in 2010.  But Democrats attempt at winning this District (which in the past was seen as futile) would get new life thanks to a Republican’s sex scandal, the Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller, and a Navy war hero.

In May 2011, Senator John Ensign announced his resignation due to an ethics investigation surrounding his extramarital affair with the wife of one of his aids.  Governor Sandoval promptly appointed Dean Heller to fill the rest of Senator Ensign’s term and ordered a special election to be held on September 13, 2011 to elect a new representative for Nevada’s 2nd Congressional District.  But it was Secretary of State Ross Miller’s announcement of how this special election would be run that gave Democrats a chance of winning this Republican stronghold.  One week prior to Governor Sandoval’s announcement, Secretary Miller issued his interpretation of NRS 304.200, the law governing special elections.  He announced that major party candidates could self-nominate and place themselves on the ballot as a major political party candidate whether or not the major political party approved.  Secretary Miller based this interpretation on NRS 304’s language that “no primary election may be held.”   This meant the election would be a free for all and more than 30 candidates were expected to be on the ballotDemocrats expected many Republicans would file as compared to only a few Democrats making it much easier to elect a Democrat. Continue reading

In the Silver State, Sometimes the Silver Medalist Walks Away the Winner

The 2008 Democratic primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama was a long and unpredictable run of events.  Never was this truer than in the Nevada Caucuses, where exactly the opposite of the state ethos occurred: it was not winner take all.  Shortly after the major news networks declared that Hillary Clinton had won a majority of the precinct caucus delegates (by a 7% margin) they surprisingly declared that Barack Obama had won the majority of the state’s delegates to the national convention.

This odd outcome was the result of a delegate allocation which sought to ensure that northern and rural Nevada, not just Las Vegas, had a voice in the decision making process. Continue reading

Some will Win, Some will Lose, Some States are Born to Sing the Blues: The Coming Battle Over Reapportionment

The stakes are incredibly high, reapportionment is looming, and recent data from Election Data Services shows that neither Democrats nor Republicans will be too pleased come next year. States which have been recently labeled as ‘safe Republican’ in Presidential elections will gain seats, but in more Democratically inclined areas. States recently labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections will lose some seats. The biggest gain will be in Texas. Texas can expect to gain four House seats, at least some of which will be placed in locations more favorable to Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, New York, a state typically labeled as ‘safe Democrat’ in Presidential elections, will likely lose two House seats. In terms of multi-district moves, Florida will likely gain two seats and Ohio will likely lose two seats. Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, South Carolina, Utah and Washington will all likely gain a seat while Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey and Pennsylvania will all likely lose a seat.

Reapportionment is becoming a problem not only for certain Presidential candidates but also state and federal candidates, especially candidates in the Midwest where rapid population flight is decimating the electoral landscape. The close electoral math is mapping onto reapportionment strategy. Democrats and Republicans are locked in a mortal struggle to gain control of state houses and governor’s mansions across the nation, in anticipation of being able to influence the composition of both state legislatures and Congress over the next decade. Continue reading

Weekly Wrap Up

A 1996 Federal Appeals Court decision is forcing DC TV stations to air “anti-abortion porn.” Missy Smith is a candidate for the DC congressional seat, though many people claim that she is simply an “anti-abortion extremist, who has found a cheap way to get some truly disgusting images onto daytime and primetime TV.” The 1996 federal appeals court decision prevents any censorship of election ads. Prior to this case, FCC Chairman Mark Fowler advised that “The no censorship prohibition in Section 315 was intended to override the statutory prohibition against the broadcast of obscene or indecent materials that is etched in Section 1464 of the Criminal Code” (cited in Gillett Communications v. Becker, 1992). Since the U.S. Supreme Court recently struck down the FCC’s “decency” regulations, freeing the airwaves for uncensored material, so it’s unlikely that Becker will be overturned soon. In the meantime, the video has been removed from YouTube because it violates its policy on “shocking and disgusting content.”

The National Organization of Marriage (NOM), a group opposing gay marriage, is trying to fund an ad in support of Carl Paladino in NY while skirting the election law requiring them to reveal their donors.  Accordingly, they have asked a federal judge to declare NY Election Law §14-100.1 unconstitutional, alleging that it chills their freedom of speech.  NOM would fall under the reporting requirement because they have the goal of “seeing the success of defeat of…political principle[s].” Continue reading

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