Articles Posted in Election Law

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In 1976, Nevada’s voters approved the creation of the Commission on Judicial Discipline through constitutional amendment. In this case, a group of individuals within the City of North Las Vegas sought to remove a municipal judge through a special recall election rather than through the system of judicial discipline established by the majority of voters in 1976. The municipal judge sought an emergency injunction from the district court and also filed a complaint challenging the legal sufficiency of the recall petition. The district court denied all of the municipal judge’s claims, concluding that judges are “public officers” subject to recall under the Nevada Constitution and that the form of the petition did not violate the judge’s constitutional rights. The Supreme Court reversed, holding that the recall petition against the municipal judge was invalid because the drafters of the constitutional amendment at issue and the electorate who approved it intended that recall no longer be an available means of removing a judge from office. View "Honorable Catherine Ramsey v. City of North Las Vegas" on Justia Law

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The Nevada Constitution prohibits the Legislature from amending or repealing a voter-initiated statute for three years after it takes effect. Scenic Nevada, Inc. qualified an initiative for submission to general-election voters in 2000. The initiative passed, and the Initiative Ordinance, which related to the construction of new billboards, became effective. Within three years of the new law’s effective date, the City of Reno enacted two billboard-related ordinances, the Conforming Ordinance and the Banking Ordinance, which amended the Initiative Ordinance. In 2012, the City enacted the Digital Ordinance, which reenacted and amended the Conforming and Banking Ordinances. Scenic Nevada sued the City, seeking to invalidate the Digital Ordinance because it incorporated the Conforming and Banking Ordinances, which were enacted within the first three years of the voters’ 2000 Initiative Ordinance. The district court entered judgment for the City, concluding that the three-year legislative moratorium does not apply to municipal initiatives. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) the three-year legislative moratorium applies to municipal initiatives; and (2) although the City enacted the Conforming and Banking Ordinances within three years of its passage, the subsequent reenactment of those ordinances after the three-year legislative moratorium cured the constitutional defect. View "Scenic Nevada, Inc. v. City of Reno" on Justia Law

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Petitioner, a citizen of Reno who intended to run for mayor, filed a writ petition seeking extraordinary relief preventing the city clerk and chief elections officer from taking the steps necessary include either Jessica Sferrazza or Dwight Dortch on the 2014 ballot for the mayoral race, asserting that Sferrazza and Dortch were ineligible to run for mayor under Nev. Const. art. XV, 3(2) by virtue of their twelve years of service as Reno City Council members. At issue before the Supreme Court was whether Article 15, Section 3(2) prevents an individual who has served for twelve years in one position on a local governing body from then serving additional terms in a different position on the same body. The Supreme Court granted the petition, holding that because the Reno City Charter makes the mayor a member of the city’s “local governing body” for all purposes, Article 15, Section 3(2) bars a term-limited council member from thereafter being elected mayor of Reno. View "Lorton v. Jones" on Justia Law

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Appellant, a Nevada political action committee, sought to enact a law through Nevada's ballot initiative process to provide a new funding sources for the state's public school K-12 education need. The proposed law, entitled "The Education Initiative" would impose a two-percent margin tax on all Nevada businesses with annual revenue of more than $1 million. Respondent filed a complaint challenging the Initiative. After finding that Initiative's description of effect was misleading, the district court granted the requested relief in part by enjoining the Secretary of State from presenting the Initiative to the Legislature. The Supreme Court reversed in part the district court's order invalidating the Initiative, holding that the description of effect at issue in this case satisfied the requirement that the description contain a straightforward, succinct, and nonargumentative statement of what the Initiative will accomplish and how it will achieve those goals. View "Educ. Initiative PAC v. Comm. to Protect Nev. Jobs" on Justia Law

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In 2008, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Inc. (ACORN) hired voter registration canvassers in Las Vegas. Under an incentive program, ACORN paid canvassers $5 a bonus if the canvasser returned twenty-one or more voter registration applications. The State subsequently charged ACORN and the supervisor of ACORN's field director for Nevada with several counts of violating Nev. Rev. Stat. 293.805, which prohibits providing compensation to voter registration canvassers based upon the total number of voters a canvasser registers. The supervisor entered an Alford plea to two counts of conspiracy to commit the crime of compensation for registration of voters, and was adjudged guilty. The Supreme Court affirmed, holding (1) section 293.805 triggers a less exacting standard of review than strict scrutiny; (2) the State demonstrated an interest sufficiently weighty to justify the limitation imposed on canvassing activities, and therefore, section 293.805 does not violate the First Amendment; and (3) section 293.805 is not unconstitutionally vague. View "Busefink v. State" on Justia Law

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Respondent Arthur E. Mallory was Churchill County's district attorney. Appellant John O'Connor is an elector and registered voter within Churchill County. In this appeal, the issue before the Supreme Court was the narrow question of whether the office of district attorney is a state office for the purpose of determining whether district attorneys are subject to term limits under the "state office" portion of Article 15, Section 3(2) of the Nevada Constitution. Reviewing the Constitution as a whole, the Supreme Court's resolution of this inquiry was controlled by Article 4, Section 32 of the Constitution, which plainly declares district attorneys to be "county officers." Because Article 4, Section 32 identifies district attorneys as county officers, it follows that the office of district attorney cannot be considered a "state office" for term-limits purposes, and thus, district attorneys are not subject to term limits under the "state office" portion of Article 15, Section 3(2). Accordingly, the Court affirmed the district court's order denying appellant's petition to set aside respondent's election to a consecutive term as the Churchill County District Attorney. View "In re Contested Election of Mallory" on Justia Law