The League of Women Voters of Nevada is providing this information and advocacy guide for the 2020 Special Legislative Session:
The League of Women Voters of Northern Nevada is hosting an important meeting on July 11th, from 10 a.m. to noon, in Zoom on policing reform. Like the LWVNN on Facebook for more information: https://www.facebook.com/nevadavoters/
The League of Women Voters of Southern Nevada is hosting a community meeting with a panel discussion about why candidates run as independents and with third parties, in Zoom, on July 18th, from 9 to 11 a.m. You can RSVP here:
The League of Women Voters of Nevada is continuing our conversation about decriminalizing mental illness, in Zoom, on July 25th, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. You can RSVP here: https://actionnetwork.org/events/continuing-conversations-decriminalizing-mental-illness
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 23, 2020
Contact: Sarah Fuchs
925.895.1602 / email@example.com
THE 2020 REDISTRICTING REFORM RACE TO THE BALLOT
LANSING, Mich – Governor Schwarzenegger joined leaders of anti-gerrymandering campaigns from six states sharing updates and strategies during a virtual summit on Tuesday, June 23. The conference was convened by Katie Fahey, who led a grassroots effort in Michigan that resulted in a successful anti-gerrymandering amendment to the state’s constitution in 2018, and now is the Executive Director of The People, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing everyday citizens from all walks of life together to find common ground around issues of good government.
Since 2018, five states have passed some type of redistricting reform, with another nine taking on the issue in 2020. The message is clear: Voters are finished with the self-serving status quo and ready for a change – and a say – in the way district lines are drawn. “I have long believed that the end of gerrymandering is going to come from the voters themselves – and now is the time for the voters of Oregon, Arkansas, North Dakota, Nevada, Oklahoma, and Virgina to terminate gerrymandering this November.”, said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a fierce supporter and proponent of redistricting reform dating back to his time as Governor of California.
Like so many aspects of life as we know it, COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders across the country have created unforeseen barriers and complications to the work of democracy reform. Many campaigns struggle to meet signature and timing deadlines in normal circumstances, let alone amidst a global pandemic. Today, these campaigns shared some of their struggles: from Oklahoma’s state of emergency that forbids signature gathering, to Oregonian organizers having to navigate the heavy burden of asking voters to print, sign, and mail in their own petitions.
One thing is clear, though: That voter appetite for change is still strong and, regardless of party, voters want politicians and the redistricting process to be accountable to them. Each campaign mentioned the strong dedication and creativity they’ve witnessed from their volunteers who are fighting against party politics and a pandemic to make it onto the ballot. Campaign leaders were from Oregon (Kate Titus, Executive Director, Common Cause OR, People Not Politicians Oregon), Arkansas (Bonnie Miller, President, League of Women Voters Washington County, Arkansas Voters First), North Dakota (Amy Jacobson, Senior Campaign Advisor and Carol Sawicki, Chair, Campaign Director, North Dakota Voters First), Nevada (Sondra Cosgrove, President, League of Women Voters of NV, Fair Maps Nevada), Oklahoma (Andy Moore, Executive Director, Let’s Fix This OK, People Not Politicians Oklahoma) and Virginia (Brian Cannon, Executive Director, OneVirginia2021).
Says Fahey, “What we saw in Michigan two years ago was that change is possible when regular Americans set aside their differences and come together to make sure our democracy is working for the people. We want to apply that to the larger movement, and bring together people from all over the country who are working to end gerrymandering.”
Representatives from each campaign spoke to the urgency and importance of this moment:
OREGON: “We’re just nine days out from the signature deadline to get on the November 2020 ballot. This is a make or break moment for Oregonians to enact a fair and transparent process in time for 2021 redistricting.” Kate Titus, Executive Director, Common Cause OR, People Not Politicians Oregon
ARKANSAS: “The pandemic has added an extra layer of complication to the process – but we strongly believe in the need to end gerrymandering, and we know that Arkansans are with us and can turn out the 89,151 total signatures needed to get us to the ballot.” Bonnie Miller, President, League of Women Voters Washington County, Arkansas Voters First
NORTH DAKOTA: “Bringing together campaigns from around the country highlighted the larger effort to put voters first, especially in North Dakota where we want to put power back into the hands of the state’s voters Carol Sawicki, Chair, North Dakota Voters First
NEVADA: “It’s about ensuring that voters get the opportunity to have their voices heard when it comes to the way our district lines are drawn. We can’t wait another 10 years for Nevada to get it right!” Sondra Cosgrove, President, League of Women Voters of NV, Fair Maps Nevada
OKLAHOMA: “Our government is failing us. Our legislators say they’re going to fix things, and yet, every year nothing changes. We need to end gerrymandering, and we have a fair, open, and transparent plan to do it.” Andy Moore, Executive Director, Let’s Fix This OK, People Not Politicians Oklahoma
VIRGINIA: “With the momentum from redistricting victories in the last election cycle, 2020 is poised to see a wave of reform that sends a clear message that voters demand accountable representation in an unrigged system.” Brian Cannon, Executive Director, OneVirginia2021
For more information about this event or how you can get involved in ending gerrymandering (and other issues working to strengthen our democracy and hold our representatives accountable) email Sarah@thepeople.org or check us out at thepeople.org, on Facebook, or on Twitter and Instagram: @thepeopleorg. Or contact a campaign near you:
To whom it may concern:
The Nevada Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights is considering study topics for its 2020-2024 term and invite members of the public to submit ideas for investigation. Topics considered must be in the following areas:
(i) voting rights,
(ii) discrimination/disparate impact, or
(iii) denial of equal protection of the laws under the Constitution and in the administration of justice.
If you are interested in submitting ideas, please complete this prompt https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/JTZ7JMK by August 14, 2020
The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Commission) is an independent, bipartisan agency established by Congress and directed to study and collect information relating to discrimination or a denial of equal protection of the laws under the Constitution because of race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, national origin, or in the administration of justice. The Commission has established advisory committees in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia. These Advisory Committees advise the Commission of civil rights issues in their states that are within the Commission’s jurisdiction.
The Committee will meet via teleconference to discuss and narrow down study topics. If you wish to remain informed of upcoming Committee meetings, you may subscribe to the Commission’s page on the federal register, or visit the State Advisory Committee Meeting Calendar on the USCCR webpage.
Ana Victoria Fortes
Civil Rights Analyst
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
firstname.lastname@example.org | (202) 681-0857
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will join the previously announced virtual news conference on redistricting reform. The governor has been a fierce advocate for taking the power to distort legislative and congressional districts away from self-serving political interests, dating back to his time as Governor of California.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 22, 2020
The People will host a virtual press briefing TOMORROW, June 23, at 12:30pm ET / 9:30am PT on active 2020 redistricting reform ballot initiatives across the country, bringing together nonpartisan campaign leadership from six states to provide updates on their respective campaigns’ rapidly approaching deadlines to place and pass their proposals on the November ballot.
National gerrymandering experts: David Daley, author and Senior Fellow at FairVote; Katie Fahey, Executive Director of The People
State campaign leaders: Kate Titus, People Not Politicians Oregon; Bonnie Miller, Arkansas Voters First; Carol Sawicki, North Dakota Voters First; Sondra Cosgrove, Fair Maps Nevada; Andy Moore, People Not Politicians Oklahoma; Brian Cannon, OneVirginia2021
WHEN: 12:30pm ET / 9:30am PT TOMORROW, June 23
WHERE: Facebook Live tiny.cc/2020lines
On March 24, 2020, Governor Sisolak placed Nevada on a Stay at Home order due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In response, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske exercised due diligence and began working with our seventeen county election officers to plan for Nevada’s June 9, 2020, primary election.
To protect Nevadans, our election officials did everything possible under the law to ensure our voting rights were protected, while also protecting the public’s health.
At the time the all mail-in voting plan was developed, no large buildings or public spaces normally utilized for vote centers in Clark County were open. Furthermore, most of our poll worker volunteers were mostly retired individuals who are at high risk of contracting and dying from the coronavirus. So, our election officials decided to limit in-person voting to protect the public’s health and instead decided to send mail-in ballots to every voter with a verified address on record, which included a postage-paid envelope.
Voters had ample opportunity to log into the online voter registration system to register to vote and to update their address and registration status. Additionally, in-person voter registration was available at the Election Department offices.
This new plan included a new full website with information that was regularly updated, social media videos and graphics, and television commercials. The election officials also reached out to civic organizations to engage in on-going dialog.
The League of Women Voters of Nevada was one of the first organizations, but certainly not the last, to host Deputy Secretary of State Wayne Thorley as a speaker, and Secretary Cegavske and Clark County Registrar of Voters Joe Gloria made themselves available for many interviews and presentations.
For a variety of different reasons, many voters decided to vote in-person on election day and there were long lines, but every person in line at 7 pm was able to vote.
Both parties have used this election’s processes for partisan purposes and have tried to score partisan points by trying to tear down our election officials. I therefore strongly believe that it falls to the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Nevada, and myself specifically, to go on record in full support of our Secretary of State and county election officials.
We already have a problem with low voter turnout in Nevada, we do not need to sow seeds of doubt about our election processes. That is irresponsible. I have full faith in all our election officials and will defend them as strongly as I will defend our state.
President League of Women Voters of Nevada
Today, the Fair Maps Nevada Coalition announced successfully negotiating an agreement with the Secretary of State and our election officials. Please see the press release and letter to Governor Sisolak below.
Fair Maps Nevada
The Fair Maps Nevada coalition reached an agreement with the Secretary of State’s Office and our county election officials today that sets the new signature submission deadline for our ballot petition to Monday, August 3, 2020. We thank the Secretary of State and the county clerks and registrars for working with us on this compromise. Every member of Fair Maps Nevada works constructively with our election officials throughout the year to ensure we have exemplary election processes. We appreciate their dedication to safe and secure voting, especially in these challenging times.
We are, therefore, now calling on Governor Sisolak to use his discretionary authority, as other Governors have, to issue an executive order that allows us to use the secure, reliable, and efficient online voter registration system, which Nevada has successfully used for many years, to gather signatures electronically, instead of the currently unsafe in-person signature process. This system, that validates Nevadans eligibility to vote, can also securely and reliably validate signers who are eligible to sign our petition.
In fact, by using this system, which will validate eligibility to sign our petition at the point of signature, we will alleviate the usual burden on our county clerks and registrars to manually validate signatures after the petition submission date and ensure that we have no signature fraud.
Furthermore, if we are forced to engage in signature gathering activities that defy social distancing guidance, we could very likely spread COVID-19 and numerous groups could be excluded from signing our petition because they are at high risk for contracting and succumbing to the virus. This includes the elderly, individuals with chronic diseases, voters who are immunocompromised, many voters with disabilities, minority communities who have already been disproportionately affected by the virus, and the family members of these high-risk groups who are trying their best to keep their loved ones safe and healthy. These groups will be avoiding answering their doors and attending large events where petitions will circulate.
Significantly, Nevadans serving out-of-state or overseas in the military or in civilian capacities also will suffer as they are always excluded from signing ballot petitions despite the fact that their right to vote is guaranteed by state and federal law.
“If Nevada can transition our entire primary election to an all-mail-in voting process, including a new electronic signature program that allows voters to “sign” their ballot envelopes virtually to add missing signatures, we assert that we should be allowed to protect Nevadans’ direct democracy rights through an existing electronic signature process.” –Sondra Cosgrove, Fair Maps Nevada
A federal judge ruled last week that our right to advance a constitutional amendment as a ballot question is protected by Nevada’s constitution and the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution. We hope the Governor will recognize our right to ask all eligible Nevadans to help qualify our amendment without endangering anyone’s health and well-being. We have supported the Governor’s wise executive directives to protect our community from COVID-19 and we will continue to support his directive to practice social distancing, but we need his help to continue to comply.
Finally, we thank our attorneys at McDonald Carano who have helped us navigate our state’s frustrating, confusing, and arduous petition process with a level of care and dedication far and above what we expected as clients.
Letter to Governor Sisolak:
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: