After a thoughtful conversation, the Fair Maps Nevada coalition has decided we cannot in good conscience gather petition signatures in-person, face-to-face and very likely contribute to the spread COVID-19. But we are also unwilling to give up our right to engage in direct democracy.
So, we plan to ask Governor Sisolak to affirm our state’s commitment to protecting the right to engage in political processes by joining the Governors of Utah and Colorado and issuing an Executive Order to allow us to gather petition signatures safely and securing through the online voter registration system.
If you support our right to engage in direct democracy safely, please sign our petition and encourage family and friends to also sign. Thank you!
On May 29, 2020, Federal District Court Miranda Du responded to Fair Maps Nevada’s request to extend the deadline for submitting ballot petition signatures and to gather signatures electronically to protect the public’s health. (The judge’s order is attached at the end of this post)
Judge Du found that we are entitled to up to six weeks extra time, which matches the amount of time we lost due to the Governor’s COVID-19 Stay at Home Order. She did not, however, rule that we can use electronic signature gathering to protect Nevadans from COVID-19 infection.
Judge Du ruled that she does not have the power to require the Secretary of State’s Office to work with us to create a system for gathering signatures electronically because we are close to the November election and because it would be difficult to find an electronic signature gathering program that would prevent fraud.
We find this reasoning puzzling considering the courts are now meeting virtually and using electronic signatures for most transactions, which means our court system recognizes electronic signatures as reliable and secure. And the Secretary of State’s office just announced it purchased an electronic signature program to allow voters who forget to sign their mail-in ballot’s return envelope to sign electronically.
We had planned to ask the Secretary of State’s office to allow us to use the online voter registration system to gather signatures, which Nevadans have used for many years to register to vote. This program allows eligible voters to affix their signatures on record with the DMV to voter registration forms. It is a proven and secure system and much more reliable than randomly asking people outside of a grocery store to sign a paper ballot petition.
Judge Du ruled that we must use the in-person, face to face signature gathering process as it exists in Nevada Revised Statutes to qualify our ballot petition. She does note that Governor Sisolak may set aside statute through his emergency powers in NRS Chapter 411, but apart from an order from the Governor to allow us to gather signature safely and securely electronically, we will need to employ a traditional strategy for gathering signatures.
This strategy will include hiring petition circulators to go door-to-door asking voters to sign our petition and hosting large events in each petition district to answer questions from voters and to request signatures. We regret that under these circumstances many voters will be unable to sign our petition out of fear of being infected by COVID-19. These high-risk groups include people of color, the elderly, individuals with chronic diseases, voters who are immunocompromised, many voters with disabilities, and the family members of these high risk groups who are trying their best to keep their loved ones safe and healthy.
We will post more information on our next steps soon, which will include opportunities to help us gather signature in the traditional face-to-face method and possibly a petition to sign to ask the Governor to allow us to gather signatures electronically. The Governor truly cares about the health of Nevadans, so we cannot think of a reason that would cause him to reject our request.
Here is what the judge noted in our case:
Here is the Judge’s full order:
Join the League of Women Voters of Nevada for opportunities to speak with our judicial candidates about what it means to be a good judge.
Many voters feel apprehensive about voting for judges because it’s hard to find information about what judges do every day, so we are inviting judicial candidates to meet with voters to discuss what judges actually do.
If you have questions about our judiciary or if you’re a candidate who is willing answer questions from voters, please RSVP for one or both of our Open Houses on Zoom:
Wednesday May 27, 2020 6 to 7:30 pm RSVP: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZItcu2tqzksHNOWfuEXjYGvukJBY7GmRzpo
Saturday June 6, 2020 1 to 2:30 pm RSVP: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZ0kcOqsqzMiG9SzfogfbFhT2Xy04QlwHS8Y
The League of Women Voters of Nevada is hosting a Judicial Races Research Discussion Group in Zoom on Thursday, May 21st, from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. We will review what the different courts do, qualities of a good judge, and how to do research on judicial candidates.
Register in advance for this meeting:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Fair Maps Nevada PAC filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on May 6, 2020, in federal district court to protect our and voters’ constitutional rights. The Nevada Constitution includes a right to circulate an initiative petition and a right for voters to vote for or against ballot questions under Article 19, Section 2(1) and Article 2, Section 1. While the U.S. Constitution protects the right to free speech and association and the right to vote and due process through the 1st and 14th amendments.
Due to the Governor’s emergency order to ‘stay at home’ and to practice social distancing when engaged in essential activities, which has now been extended to May 15th, we continue to be unable to circulate our amendment and voters are unable to sign our petition to qualify for the November ballot.
We are, therefore, seeking a legal remedy that provides a secure, reliable, and virtual method to gather signatures as well as for a deadline extension to submit signatures for verification sufficient to replace time lost due to the state of emergency. In both requests we ask for assistance that aligns with keeping Nevadans safe from COVID-19.
In a recent ruling on the Secretary of State’s power to interpret Nevada Revised Statutes to protect constitutional rights and the public’s health, Federal District Court Judge Miranda Du wrote that Secretary Cegavske was well within her sphere of power to enact regulations to carry out election laws for our upcoming primary election. Writing about the Secretary’s decision to move to an all-mail-in voting plan, Judge Du wrote:
The Nevada Legislature has authorized the Secretary to enact voting regulations under NRS § 293.124. The section provides:
1. The Secretary of State shall serve as the Chief Officer of Elections for this State. As Chief Officer, the Secretary of State is responsible for the execution and enforcement of the provisions of title 24 of NRS and all other provisions of state and federal law relating to elections in this State.
2. The Secretary of State shall adopt such regulations as are necessary to carry out the provisions of [the election laws under Title 24—NRS Chapters 293–306].
Nevada Revised Statutes also places ballot questions under the authority of the Secretary of State through Title 24, Chapter 295.
We are confident the court will recognize and protect our right to circulate a petition and voters’ right to enact or reject our ballot question in these extraordinary and very dangerous times. With redistricting coming in 2021, our redistricting reform amendment is timely, and it is vitally important that every Nevadan has the opportunity to debate, consider, and vote on the issue.
You can read our court motion here:
The Secretary of State’s Office created a new website with all the information voters need for the Primary Election mail-in voting process: