Posts Tagged ‘voters’

Democrats Continue To Outpace Republicans In Voter Registration Efforts In August

By Sean Whaley | 6:33 pm September 4th, 2012

CARSON CITY – Democrats continued to outpace Republicans in their voter registration efforts in August, signing up 12,163 new voters to 5,042 for Republicans, the Secretary of State’s office reported today.

Registered nonpartisans increased by 6,575 during the same time period, also exceeding the registrations by the GOP.

Of the 1,122,236 active registered voters statewide, 41.3 percent, (463,229), are Democrats, 36.3 percent, (407,513), are Republicans, and 16.7 percent, (186,941), are nonpartisans.

Photo by Tom Arthur via Wikimedia Commons.

The August efforts mirror those reported from July, when Democrats registered 8,121 active voters compared to 3,705 active voters for Republicans. Active registered nonpartisans increased by 4,946 during the same time period.

Voter registration efforts are expected to play an important role in the presidential race in Nevada, one of a handful of battleground states expected to determine whether President Obama wins a second term or if his challenger Mitt Romney succeeds him in 2013.

But the presidential contest isn’t the only race in play. In addition to the U.S. Senate race between Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., and Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., there are many other important down ballot races.

Among those viewed as vital by both parties are five state Senate seats, which will determine if Democrats retain their majority in the 2013 legislative session or if Republicans take control of the 21-member Senate.

Democrats have added to their totals in the seats since the end of registration for the May primary.

Democrats now have an 11-10 edge in the state Senate, and Republicans are trying to take control for the 2013 session. Republicans need to win four of the five seats to take an 11-10 majority. Four of the five seats in play are in Southern Nevada and the fifth is in Reno.

In Senate District 5, where Republican and former Henderson city councilman Steve Kirk is facing Democrat and former state Sen. Joyce Woodhouse, Democrats have added to their registration edge. Democrats had a 1,680 voter advantage as the close of registration for the June primary, and a 2,127 edge as of the end of August. Democrats are 40.4 percent of the voters in the district; Republicans are 36.6 percent.

In Senate District 6, where GOP attorney Mark Hutchison faces Democrat Benny Yerushalmi, Democrats had a 1,890 voter advantage at the primary, and now lead by 2,797. Democrats have 41.7 percent of active voters in the district compared to 37.1 percent for Republicans.

In Senate District 9, where Republican Mari Nakashima St. Martin faces Democrat Justin Jones, Democrats have improved their advantage from 1,917 voters at the primary to 2,648 at the end of August. Democrats have 39.9 percent of voters compared to 34.3 percent for the GOP.

In Senate District 18, where Republican Assemblyman Scott Hammond faces Democrat Kelli Ross, Republicans have seen their 1,653 voter edge as of the primary decline to 1,351 as of the end of August. Republicans have 39.9 percent of the voters compared to 37.6 percent for Democrats.

In the Reno race in Senate District 15 between Sen. Greg Brower, R-Reno, and former state Sen. Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, Republicans have seen their 1,404 GOP edge as of the primary decline slightly to 1,355 at the end of August. It was a tiny gain for the GOP from July, however. Republicans have 39.7 percent of voters to 37.8 percent for Democrats.

Carson Judge Rules Against Personhood Petition Seeking To Define Life As Starting At Conception

By Sean Whaley | 6:08 pm December 21st, 2011

CARSON CITY – A Carson City district judge today ruled an initiative petition to amend the state constitution to define human life as beginning at conception was too vague and so could not be circulated to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

Carson City District Judge James Wilson ruled from the bench after an hour of argument from attorneys representing Personhood Nevada and the American Civil Liberties Union, which challenged the proposal in court.

“It looks to me like this is unnecessarily broad,” Wilson said at one point in the hearing. He also said it was vague and did not clearly state what its intent was. The description of effect required for such ballot measures was also unclear and could not be rehabilitated, he said in his ruling.

Olaf Vancura and Candy Best with Personhood Nevada talk about their proposed initiative petition before a court hearing today. / Photo: Nevada News Bureau.

Attorney Gary Kreep, with the United States Justice Foundation based in California, represented Personhood Nevada. He said the proposal to amend the Nevada constitution to define a person as starting at “biological development” was clear and did not violate the requirement that ballot proposals deal with a single subject.

He acknowledged that the effects  of the proposed change to the constitution to include the phrase “the term ‘person’ includes every human being” could be numerous, however, as the definition was applied to various areas of state law.

But Kreep said the ramifications of the proposal would become clear to voters as the measure was debated before election day.

ACLU attorney Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, representing Nevada voters opposed to the proposed constitutional amendment, argued that registered voters would not have a clear understanding of what the effect of the proposal would be if asked to sign the petition to place the measure on the ballot.

Opponents of the proposal were happy with Wilson’s ruling.

“Obviously we’re pleased that the court agreed with us that it’s important that voters fully understand the sweeping impacts that these initiatives would have and we’re pleased to see that this one cannot go forward,” said Elisa Cafferata, president and CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates.

Kreep said after the hearing the group will have to assess whether to appeal the decision to the Nevada Supreme Court. The Personhood group lost on similar grounds in 2010 when it tried to circulate a similar petition to Nevada voters.

Personhood Nevada could potentially file a revised initiative petition with the secretary of state’s office, but then the legal review process would begin all over again.

“The abortion providers, according to Congressional testimony by former employees, make millions and hundreds of millions of dollars off of selling body parts,” Kreep said following Wilson’s ruling. “They get hundreds of millions of dollars in state aid. And it feeds the attorneys who litigate for them to keep the death machine going.”

Wilson on Monday ruled that a separate proposed constitutional amendment submitted by the Nevada Prolife Coalition to outlaw abortion did not violate a rule for ballot measures requiring them to address only a single subject and he allowed the petition to go forward.

Cafferata said opponents are still evaluating whether to appeal that decision to the Nevada Supreme Court.

Groups seeking to place a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot would need to collect 72,352 valid signatures by June 19. The measure would have to be approved by voters twice, in 2012 and again in 2014, to take effect.

Before the hearing, Olaf Vancura, a member of the Board of Directors of Personhood Nevada, said the proposed amendment is simple: “The sole purpose of this initiative is to clarify the definition of what a person is in the state of Nevada. And that’s why it is a simple seven words, ‘the term person includes every human being.’ ”

The Personhood effort is a national one, with measures being sought for placement on the ballot in several states. One test of the measure came in Mississippi in November, where it was rejected by voters.


Audio clips:

Elisa Cafferata, president and CEO of Nevada Advocates for Planned Parenthood Affiliates, says opponents of the Personhood petition are pleased with the ruling:

122111Cafferata :16 cannot go forward.”

Olaf Vancura, a member of the Board of Directors of Personhood Nevada, says the proposals is simple:

122111Vancura :12 every human being.”

Attorney Gary Kreep, representing Personhood Nevada, says abortion supporters make millions on the practice:

122111Kreep :15 death machine going.”

Governor’s First Veto Sparks Public Relations Battle

By Andrew Doughman | 2:04 pm April 4th, 2011

CARSON CITY – Gov. Brian Sandoval’s first veto has sparked a fight over who, exactly, has the support of the people.

Sandoval today vetoed a bill from Assemblywoman Debbie Smith, D-Sparks, that would have allowed school districts to use debt reserves for school renovation.

Sandoval is counting on that same pot of money to fund school district operating costs.

Both the Republican governor and the Democratic Assemblywoman are pointing fingers accusing the other of being irresponsible.

Democrats argue that Sandoval’s veto represents a betrayal of the voters will. Smith contends that the governor is raiding a fund that voters approved for school construction.

“Not only are these children being disregarded, so are the voters who voted for these funds to be used for school rehabilitation and construction,” she said in a statement released following Sandoval’s veto.

Sandoval said that the Democrats would open up a hole in his budget that would result in teachers losing their jobs. His advisers said the voters understand times have changed, and the funds are required for operating costs.

“We think the voters understand that the circumstances have changed,” said Dale Erquiaga, the governor’s senior adviser.

Assembly Bill 183 will almost certainly die since Democrats in the Assembly and Senate do not have the two-thirds majority vote required to override Sandoval’s veto.

Assembly and Senate Republicans voted as a bloc against the bill before it arrived at the governor’s office, and nothing indicates that any of them will change their minds now.

So the real battle is over how Nevadans interpret the veto.

Voters in the school districts of both Clark and Washoe counties approved school construction bonds about a decade ago.

The school districts are required by law to save some of that money in a debt reserve account for repayment of the construction bonds.

Another way of viewing it is to say that voters approved buying a bottle of soda for school districts. The law allows districts to drink most of that soda, but they have to keep some of it in the bottle.

Both Sandoval and Smith want the districts to keep less. Sandoval would use the money to pay for operating costs, the basic expenditures that ensure schools open every day.

“In appropriating bond reserve money for construction, proponents of the bill have reduced the amount of funds available for classroom instruction by approximately $301million,” Sandoval said in a statement issued this morning. “Along the way, they have misleadingly cited those who voted for the issuance of school bonds in the past as supporting their cause today, unfairly attributing to them their narrow view.”

Smith said it was “shocking” that the governor would accuse her and her supports of misleading the public.

“When the voters voted for this, they didn’t vote for part of it to for construction and part of it to go to a reserve,” she said. “…If I’m a voter, I’m assuming anything in that fund is going to go for construction.”

Voters approved the bond money, and the Legislature required in law that some of that money be kept in a reserve account.

None of that money was slated for anything except debt service. Smith and Sandoval want to use some of that money for two different purposes.

The better use of that money is the fight Smith and Sandoval are trying to win.

You can read the bill here and decide for yourself.








State Employees Protest Lack Of Discussion On Tax Increases To Help Balance Budget

By Andrew Doughman | 5:26 pm February 14th, 2011

CARSON CITY – About 50 state employees gathered in front of the Legislative Building today to call on Gov. Brian Sandoval to participate in a discussion about potential tax increases to help fund the state budget.

With the wind blowing at a steady clip, Vishnu Subramaniam, AFSCME Local 4041, chief of staff, said: “This is a great analogy of what’s going on in the state. They’re trying to blow us away while we’re providing services.

“We need a broad-based corporate tax,” he said. “We need to be having a talk about revenues. The talk of cuts is a red herring.”

Subramaniam said by not having a revenue debate, the state budget under review in the 2011 legislative session is focused on only one side of the equation: budget reductions.

Sandoval has rejected any proposals to increase taxes or fees to help balance the budget. He has submitted a $5.8 billion general fund budget that he says does not include any new tax or fee increases.

John Kinney, a custodial maintenance worker at Western Nevada College, held a sign that said: “Sloppy thinking equals quick fixes! Gov: you can do better!”

“I’d like them to take away the 5 percent cut and give us our furloughs back,” he said. “We’re getting cut more than anyone else. We’ve had furloughs for the last three years.

“I rented out my house because it was almost foreclosed on,” Kinney said. “If I wouldn’t have rented it out, I would’ve lost it.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, spoke to the assembled group, saying the cuts proposed in Sandoval’s budget need to be given a human face to show how they affect nurses, social workers and the community as a whole.

Tough cuts are needed but, “we can’t dismantle Nevada,” he said. “We need to put Nevadan’s back to work.”

Asked to comment on the gathering, Dale Erquiaga, senior adviser to Sandoval, said the 5 percent pay cut being proposed for state workers is only slightly larger than the 4.6 percent reduction in place now. While state employees are also getting unpaid days off in exchange for the reductions, a practice that would be eliminated in Sandoval’s proposed budget, state government is a service industry and the needs of the public have to be considered, he said.

Erquiaga also noted that Sandoval is seeking the same 5 percent cut for public school teachers and university faculty as part of his “shared sacrifice,” although it will be up to school district boards and the Board of Regents to decide whether to implement such reductions.

“You can’t ask state employees to carry it all and have university faculty take none,” he said. “I think the state employees would agree with that.”

Erquiaga said there is no reason the Legislature can’t have a discussion of new taxes or revenues, but that lawmakers should do so early on in the session and in a public forum so the public can participate.

Not in the last hour of the session in the dead of night, he added.

Sandoval would not be opposed to a discussion with lawmakers about putting a tax increase before the voters, Erquiaga said. It would depend on the details: what type of tax increase, who would vote, and how long it would last,” he said.

“He has never said he would prohibit the public from voting on taxes,” Erquiaga said.

Capital Bureau Chief Sean Whaley contributed to this report.

Audio clips:

Sandoval Senior Adviser Dale Erquiaga says state government is a customer service industry:

021411Erquiaga1 :09 for them first.”

Erquiaga says Sandoval is seeking the same 5 percent salary cut for teachers and university faculty:

021411Erquiaga2 :07 agree with that.”

Erquiaga says Sandoval will not change his position against new taxes or fees:

021411Erquiaga3 :17 they don’t know.”

New Rasmussen Numbers on Nevada’s Gubernatorial Race

By Elizabeth Crum | 9:09 am March 8th, 2010

In case you missed the Rasmussen numbers on the governor match-ups over the weekend (snippets/bullets):

– GOP candidate Brain Sandoval has an 18-point lead over Democrat Rory Reid who trails Sandoval 53% to 35% with 7% preferring another candidate and 5% undecided.  (Last month, Sandoval led Rory by 12 points.)

– North Las Vegas Mayor Mike Montandon has a 42% to 37% lead over Reid.  13% said they like some other candidate and 8% are undecided. (Last poll, Reid led Montandon 40% to 36%.)

– However, Rory still has the edge over Gibbons, 44% to 36%.  In that race, 15% want Someone Else and only 4% are undecided.

– Gender ratios:  Male voters prefer all three GOP candidates over Rory (but by just three points when Gibbons is the candidate). Sandoval leads among female voters, too, but Reid has the edge among women over Gibbons and Montandon (hm!)

– Indy vote note:  Among voters not affiliated with either major party, Reid trails Sandoval but leads both Gibbons and Montandon (hm!!)

– Gibbons:  37% of all voters in Nevada at least “somewhat approve” of the job Gibbons has been doing as governor (9% strongly approve).  61% disapprove of the governor’s performance, including 37% who strongly disapprove.

– Sandoval:  gets “very favorable” views from 17% and “very unfavorable” from 10%.

– Rory Reid, double-whammied by being (1) chairman of the Clark County Board of Commissioners and (2) the offspring of the uber-unpopular Harry Reid, has 34% unfavorables.

– Montandon:  5% have a very favorable opinion of Montandon and 8% view him very unfavorably.

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.

Nevada Group Proposes Increase in Mining Tax to Help with State Funding Woes

By Sean Whaley | 11:06 am January 19th, 2010

(Updated at 3:43 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2010)

RENO – A coalition of Nevada labor and social groups said today it will ask voters to raise the mining tax to help fund a state budget gap that continues to widen during the current economic slowdown.

PLAN, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada,  filed a petition with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office  to amend the state constitution to require taxes to be paid on the gross, not the net, of the value of the minerals extracted by the mining industry.

If approved by voters in 2010 and again in 2012, the effect of the change would be to more than triple the amount paid by the industry to  state and local governments, said PLAN Executive Director Bob Fulkerson.

The proposal would also allow the Legislature to increase the rate paid by the industry above the current limit of 5 percent, he said. The group has until June 15 to collect the 97,002 signatures needed to qualify the measure for the ballot.

A mining industry representative said looking to one industry to solve the state’s budget problems has not worked with the gaming industry and won’t work with mining either.

Fulkerson said mining is singled out for protections in the state constitution limiting the amount the industry must pay to the state, so it is fair game for being singled out for a tax increase.

“No other industry has a constitutional protection but mining,” he said. “It is unlike other industries. You can play another hand of cards, or sell another car or build another house. With gold, when you take it out of the ground it is gone for good. We’re just asking the mining industry to pay its fair share.”

The alternatives of increasing class sizes and ending all-day kindergarten, as proposed by Gov. Jim Gibbons as ways to balance the budget, are not acceptable, Fulkerson said.

Tim Crowley, president of the Nevada Mining Association, said the industry already pays its fair share. The industry in 2008 paid $130 million in conventional taxes, such as sales and payroll taxes, which was a record, he said.

The industry also pays the special mining tax of 5 percent on the value of the minerals, which also generated a record amount in 2008 of $92 million, he said.

“We haven’t seen the initiative, and we will have to take a hard look at how it would apply to our industry,” Crowley said.

Some less profitable non-gold producing mining companies could be hit harder with the proposed tax increase, he said.

Singling out one industry for a tax increase has been shown to be a bad idea in the past, Crowley said. Mining is also a bright spot in the state economy in this period of recession, he said.

“We’re providing high paying jobs to 14,000 Nevadans,” Crowley said. “To pick any industry, especially one that is already paying an industry specific tax, is not wise tax policy.”

State Sen. Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, said he is always reluctant to see changes proposed to the state consitution.

“As hard as it is to get something into the constitution, it is twice as hard to get it out,” he said. “What is popular now may not be popular a few years from now.”

Townsend said the state needs to examine how it spends its existing revenues before seeking a tax increase.

“The question is, do we need the revenue,” he said. “Before we ask someone to pay more, we have to ask ourselves if we are spending our current revenues effectively. The answer to that is: not completely.”