Judge Throws Out Description of Voter ID Initiative

Affiliate: ACLU of Nevada
May 7, 2014 12:00 am

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Nevada
Media Contact
125 Broad Street
18th Floor
New York, NY 10004
United States

CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

CARSON CITY, NV – Today, Judge James T. Russell of the First Judicial District of Nevada ruled that petition papers attempting to place a “Voter ID Initiative” on this November’s ballot are legally flawed and must be rewritten. The ruling came in a lawsuit, Rosati et al. v. Our Vote Nevada PAC, filed on February 20, 2014, by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Nevada and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers’ Committee).

The Voter ID Initiative is being sponsored by the Our Vote Nevada PAC and by former Senate candidate Sharron Angle, who were named as the principal defendants in the lawsuit. The Voter ID Initiative would amend the Nevada Constitution to require the Legislature to adopt a photo identification requirement for Nevada voters. Initiative petition papers are required by state law to provide an accurate description of the effect of proposed initiatives, and Judge Russell’s ruling today found the description of effect for the Voter ID Initiative to be legally invalid.

Judge Russell rewrote the description of effect for the Voter ID’s Initiative to clarify that it will cost the state money. The Secretary of State’s Office has indicated that the measure would have a significant financial cost. Nevada law requires that an initiative’s description of effect include its material effects, including any fiscal impact for the state.

“We are pleased with the decision. We entered into this case because we felt that voters need to understand the full picture if they are going to be asked to sign this initiative requiring a photo ID to vote. While we did not get everything that we wanted, we are pleased that voters will now know this is something that will cost the state money,” said Allen Lichtenstein, General Counsel for the ACLU of Nevada.

“Nevada law is clear that citizens presented with petitions must be fairly informed about their consequences, and we are pleased that the Judge has upheld this principle. Voters will now be better informed about the effects of this proposal,” said Bob Kengle, Co-Director of the Voting Rights Project for the Lawyers’ Committee.

“Instead of restricting access to voting, we should be working to make it easier for every Nevadan to vote. It is time to do away with these ridiculous restrictions and recognize the rights of voters under the constitution,” said Tod Story, ACLU of Nevada Executive Director.

All signatures gathered for the Voter ID Initiative using the old description of effect are invalid. The proponents of the Voter ID Initiative have until June 17, 2014 to gather the required 101,667 valid signatures from registered Nevada voters with the new description of effect.

Every month, you'll receive regular roundups of the most important civil rights and civil liberties developments. Remember: a well-informed citizenry is the best defense against tyranny.

Learn More About the Issues in This Press Release