Posts Tagged ‘ballot’

Nevada Voters To Weigh In On One Controversial State Ballot Measure In November

By Sean Whaley | 7:43 am September 19th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Nevada voters will determine the fate of only one statewide measure in the Nov. 6 general election, but the proposal put on the ballot by the Legislature is somewhat controversial.

Question 1 on the ballot asks Nevada voters if the state constitution should be amended to allow the Legislature, on extraordinary occasions and only with two-thirds support of lawmakers in each house, to call itself into special session. Sessions would be limited to 20 days, but could be convened on a continuous basis if the extraordinary occasion requirement was met and with two-thirds support from lawmakers.

The term “extraordinary occasions” is not defined in the proposed constitutional amendment.

The Nevada state Senate in session, 2011. / Nevada News Bureau file photo.

The constitution now says that only the governor can call a special session of the Legislature.

Currently, legislatures in 34 states are authorized to call a special session.

Nevada voters have rejected this concept once before, in 2006, by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent.

The measure is on the ballot after Assembly Joint Resolution 5 was approved by the Legislature in both 2009 and 2011. In 2011, the proposal passed both houses only by a party line vote with all Republicans opposed.

Opponents of the proposal are concerned the change could move the Legislature away from its tradition of meeting on a part-time basis.

In a discussion of the ballot language for the question by the Legislative Commission in June, Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Las Vegas, said the ability of lawmakers to continue special sessions indefinitely was a concern.

Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said at the commission meeting that giving lawmakers the authority to call themselves into special session could be important if a situation like that in Illinois arose with impeached Gov. Rod Blagojevich. It is unlikely that a governor facing impeachment would call a special session to allow for his removal from office, he said.

Sen. Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, said in an interview this week that with the state getting bigger and issues sometimes requiring immediate attention, there are times the Legislature may need to convene itself into special session.

“I think it is closer to the people if the Legislature has the ability to do that,” he said.

But Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said this week he likes the way the system works now.

“I like the fact that we have a strong chief executive state,” he said. “That the Legislature can’t call itself into session for whatever purpose it chooses. I think the system that we have is functional for our state.

“And the idea that the Legislature can start calling itself into session whenever it wants just doesn’t really fly with me,” Kieckhefer said.

Special sessions of the Nevada Legislature have become more frequent in recent years, in part because of the state’s ongoing budget problems. But they have all been called by the sitting governor at the time. Gov. Brian Sandoval has not yet called for a special session in his 21 months in office.

The last special session was called in February 2010 by then Gov. Jim Gibbons to deal with a shortfall in the state budget. It lasted seven days.

There have been 10 special sessions of the Legislature since 2001. They were called for a variety of reasons, including tort reform for the medical industry and the impeachment of the late state Controller Kathy Augustine. Many were called because the Legislature could not finish its work by the constitutionally-mandated 120 days, a limit approved by voters in 1998 and taking effect for the first time in 1999.

Previously there had not been a special session since 1989.


Audio clips:

Sen. Mo Denis says there are times when the Legislature may need to call itself into special session:

091812Denis :22 into special session.”

Sen. Ben Kieckhefer says he likes the system as it works now:

091812Kieckhefer :28 fly with me.”



Secretary Of State Ross Miller Declares Special Election Open For All

By Andrew Doughman | 12:59 pm May 2nd, 2011

CARSON CITY — Secretary of State Ross Miller today announced that a special election for Nevada’s Congressional District Two will be open to all candidates.

“You might as well call this a ballot royale,” he said.

Miller’s decision allows for any candidate to be on the ballot for the Sept. 13 election. The state Republican party has favored an interpretation of state law that would allow state parties to pick a single candidate of their choice.

Miller’s decision is widely believed to benefit Democrats in a special election since an open ballot with many Republican candidates could split the vote, allowing a Democratic candidate to win in a congressional district that leans Republican.

Miller announced his decision at a press conference at the Legislature, where he framed his decision with this question about candidates:

“Are they picked by the people of the state of Nevada or instead by a small group of powerful political party officials?”

Miller said a free-for-all election is about the voters, not his affiliation with the Democratic party.

“Our entire system is based on a concept of being inclusive, one that’s open to all citizens,” Miller said.”This interpretation allows open ballot access, freedom for all to run and ultimately it lets the people decide. That electoral structure is as American as apple pie.”

Republicans, however, contend that Miller made a decision based on what would best suit Democratic candidates in the special election.

“Secretary Miller seems to have allowed partisan politics to direct his decision concerning how to conduct the special election in U.S. Congressional District 2,” said Cory Adair of the state Republican party. “The Nevada Republican Party stands firm that state law ensures major party central committees should be the nominating body for their own candidates in a special election.”

A special election became necessary after Gov. Brian Sandoval appointed Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev., to the U.S. Senate to replace outgoing Republican Sen. John Ensign, who announced his resignation last month. Ensign made his farewell remarks today, and his resignation is effective tomorrow.

Sandoval announced Sept. 13 as the date of the special election, but it was up to Miller to clarify the law as it concerns who is eligible to run for the seat.

Lawsuits from both major political parties are pending and could alter the rules for the election.

Miller said today that any court decision would have to be made by July 15. Otherwise elections officials may not have time to issue ballots to overseas and military voters.

“The bottom line is, we won’t have a lot of time for this to be resolved in the courts,” he said.

A timeline provided by the Secretary of State provides for candidate filings, ballot printings and voter registration deadlines.



Ross Miller asks whether political parties or voters should choose candidates:

050211 Miller :12 “How are those candidates …”

Ross Miller says the process is “as American as apple pie.”

050211 Miller :12 “This interpretation allows open ballot …”

Efforts By Citizens To Access November Ballot End In Failure

By Sean Whaley | 5:05 am June 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – One proposal sought to increase mining taxes and another wanted to define life as beginning at conception. A third would have required secret ballots for employee votes on whether to join a union and yet another would have given Nevada residents the right to reject participation in government backed health care.

But none of these citizen-backed proposals to amend the Nevada state constitution will be on the ballot come November. Legal challenges, the cost and time required to circulate petitions and other factors have led to all such measures ending in failure this election cycle.

Yesterday was the deadline for groups to turn in the nearly 100,000 signatures needed to qualify constitutional amendments for the ballot.

The only group to come close, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, announced Monday it would fall short of the number of signatures needed to ask voters to consider increasing the mining tax.

Jan Gilbert, northern Nevada coordinator for PLAN, said a legal challenge by the well-financed Nevada mining industry did hurt the group’s efforts. The effort was also made more complex by the 2009 Legislature by requiring signatures to be collected in the state’s three congressional districts, she said.

In Clark County, where all three of Nevada’s representatives have constituents, signature gatherers had to determine which of three petitions to use for each registered voter, Gilbert said.

The process shouldn’t be so easy that voters have to consider 20 or 30 ballot questions every two years, but it should be fair, she said.

Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen, who has in the past argued in court in support of several constitutional amendment efforts, said the process is intentionally designed by the Legislature to thwart the public’s will.

“They don’t want the people to have this input,” he said. “They have been hostile to the process.”

Hansen, who advocated for an initiative petition to impose a spending limitation on state government four years ago, said the process is set up to allow expensive legal challenges by opponents. Most citizen groups can’t afford to fight such legal challenges, and if they do and they win, any funds to collect signatures are then depleted, he said.

“The right of ordinary people to do this has essentially been destroyed by the Legislature’s burdensome requirements,” Hansen said.

The TASC measure to limit the growth of state government to inflation and population growth was kicked off the ballot by the Nevada Supreme Court after supporters had won in district court, he said. Hansen, who argued to put the measure on the ballot, said a typographical error was cited as the reason by the Supreme Court to not let it go to the voters.

The court in its ruling said the error was significant and not just a minor typo.

Hansen said such rulings frustrate the will of the voters who clearly want the measures qualified for the ballot.

Since the Legislature is unwilling to simplify the process, the only answer may be an initiative petition by the people to amend the state constitution to reform the process for placing such measures on the ballot, he said.

“It’s very discouraging,” he said. “I have not been involved in any of these this year because nobody has the heart for it anymore.”

Hansen, a candidate for attorney general with the Independent American Party, said he would work if elected to advocate for the public’s right to access the ballot.

“Whatever I can do from that position, I will do it,” he said.

Gilbert said another challenge for PLAN was the requirement for nearly 100,000 signatures, a significant number resulting from the strong turnout in the 2008 presidential election. The signature requirement in other years can be much lower depending on turnout at the prior general election.

A challenge to the mining tax proposal was just argued in front of the Nevada Supreme Court earlier this month. Gilbert said she does not know if a ruling will be forthcoming now that the group has not filed its signatures.

The legal challenge by the Nevada Mining Association could only be contested by PLAN with the help of attorneys who worked for free, she said.

Gilbert said PLAN believes the petition effort has laid the groundwork for the Legislature to consider mining tax increases in the 2011 session.

If a citizen-backed constitutional amendment does make it on the ballot, it must be approved twice before it can take effect. The Legislature can place such amendments on the ballot after approving them in two consecutive legislative sessions.

The process is equally complex for citizens who want to change an existing state law rather than amend the constitution, but the time frame to collect signatures is longer. Several such petitions are circulating, including one by Gov. Jim Gibbons to open up the public employee negotiating process to the open meeting law. The deadline for signatures for these measures is Nov. 9.

Audio files

Jan Gilbert of PLAN says there are obstacles to petition drives in Nevada:

061510Gilbert1 :14 get those signatures.”

Gilbert says initiative process shouldn’t be too easy but should be fair:

061510Gilbert2 :16 that is achievable.”

Las Vegas attorney Joel Hansen says Legislature has intentionally made petition process difficult:

061510Hansen1 :22 having this voice.”

Hansen says Nevada Supreme Court has frustrated will of people:

061510Hansen2 :20 think we will.”

SOS Candidate Rob Lauer Criticizes Ross Miller’s Past Position on Voter ID, Pushes Ballot Initiative

By Elizabeth Crum | 2:19 pm February 23rd, 2010

Secretary of State candidate Rob Lauer is here at the special session and is critical of Ross Miller (see the bold text below) via the following ballot initiative:


Candidate for Nevada Secretary of State Sponsors Voter ID Ballot Initiative

THE SAFE ACT ~ The Secure and Fair Elections Act

Las Vegas, NV – February 23, 2010 – This November, Nevada voters will not be required to show government-issued photo ID when they arrive at the polls. That may be the last time they do not need to bring an ID, depending on how they vote on a common sense ballot initiative. A proposal requiring a government issued picture ID at the polls will appear on the ballot just a few months after the regional director for ACORN will go on trial for charges of felony voter fraud in the 2008 election.

The SAFE ballot initiative is sponsored by Rob Lauer, Republican candidate for Nevada Secretary of State. Lauer is challenging incumbent Democrat Ross Miller.

In 2008, Clark County became the focus of a voter fraud scandal involving the political activist group ACORN. ACORN’s Las Vegas offices were raided by Las Vegas Metro Police after county officials discovered voter registration forms with fictional names. The local ACORN office administrators are accused of running an illegal voter registration incentive scheme. Investigators said the employees created fake voter registration cards in order to earn the incentive pay. ACORN’s Deputy Regional Director, Amy Busefink, will stand trial in July, charged with 13 felony counts related to voter fraud. ACORN’s local field director, Christopher Edwards, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of gross misdemeanors related to the incentive scheme and will testify against Busefink. On February 17, Busefink appeared in court to request that she be tried in a separate case, completely removed from charges pending against the group ACORN. The judge denied her request.

Announcing his decision to introduce the ballot initiative, Rob Lauer said the following:

“Not only has the constitutionality of Voter ID been recently upheld by the United States Supreme Court, it helps to uphold the integrity of our republic and the constitution. After watching the ACORN fraud I feel we need this ballot initiative to be brought before the people of Nevada now. If Ross Miller hadn’t opposed Voter ID four years ago the ACORN scandal would have been avoided. Nevadans have the right to decide if they value their democracy enough to ensure its authenticity. I am sponsoring an initiative for the November 2010 ballot requiring voters to show a government-issued picture ID when they vote. This common sense law will protect all of us from the felony voter fraud that was nearly pulled off by ACORN in this last election.”

In 2008, Indiana passed a similar initiative requiring voter identification. The constitutionality of the law was challenged in the United States Supreme Court in Crawford v. Marion Election Board. In a 6-3 ruling, the High Court upheld the state’s right to require a government issued picture identification in its elections.

I’ll try to get a statement from incumbent Secretary of State Ross Miller – who is also here at the special session, of course – and will update here if I do.