Recall much tougher in Nevada than California

Conservative groups seeking to emulate California by recalling the governor and members of the Nevada Supreme Court will find they face a much tougher road in the Silver State.

Several groups, including the Independent American Party, have said they will try to recall members of the Supreme Court who voted to lift the two-thirds super-majority requirement for raising taxes.

IAP officials and members of conservative groups such as the Liberty Caucus have also suggested they may try recall Gov. Kenny Guinn for proposing and supporting major tax increases over the next two years. Lawmakers finally passed and Guinn signed an $836 million tax package.

No group has actually filed a recall notice of intent or begun collecting signatures.

California's signature gatherers needed only 12 percent of those who voted in the last governor's race to force a recall election, about 900,000 signatures of registered voters. They easily topped that number.

But that's significantly less than the 25 percent required by Nevada's constitution to force a recall election. And in Nevada, that's 25 percent of the total voter turnout in the election where the challenged official won office -- a higher number than just those who voted in the candidate's race.

That means petitioners in Nevada would have to convince 128,109 registered voters to sign a petition to remove Guinn or Supreme Court justices Mark Gibbons and Bill Maupin, a quarter of the 2002 statewide turnout when they were elected. It's unlikely Maupin would be included in any recall attempt, since he voted against lifting the two-thirds super-majority requirement.

To remove justices Deborah Agosti or Miriam Shearing -- both elected in 1998 -- would take 110,011 signatures. The toughest ones would be justices Nancy Becker, Myron Leavitt and Bob Rose, all elected in 2000 when voter interest was swelled by the race between George W. Bush and Al Gore. A quarter of that turnout would be 153,340 signatures.

In addition, Nevada law gives recall backers only 90 days from the filing of the notice of intent to collect the signatures. There is no time limit in California.

According to Ronda Moore, elections deputy for Secretary of State Dean Heller, the states differ even more sharply in what they require to put another candidate's name on the ballot.

In California, all it takes is 65 signatures and a $3,500 filing fee. As a result, that state's voters will have a list of 193 candidates to choose from if they remove Gray Davis as governor in October.

In Nevada, those who would take an office away from an official must gather signatures equal to the same 25 percent of turnout required to force the recall election.

"If someone wants to run, they've got to circulate a nominating petition," said Moore.

So to recall a Nevada official holding statewide office and put your own name in to replace him, you'd have to get more than 100,000 registered voters to sign two separate petitions.

Then there's the ballot.

In California, the voter first votes either for or against recalling the office holder.

Then, on the same ballot, they vote for another candidate to replace the holder. If more than half of voters support the recall, the replacement candidate who gets the most votes, even if it's just 10 percent of the total, wins the office in California. The office holder -- Davis in the California recall election -- cannot run as a candidate to replace himself.

In Nevada, voters vote for or against recalling the office holder if that person is the only one on the ballot.

If, for example, Guinn were recalled, Lt. Gov. Lorraine Hunt would serve until the next general election. If a member of the Supreme Court were recalled, the governor would fill the vacancy from a list of three nominees selected by the Judicial Selection Commission.

But if there are other candidates on the ballot, Moore said, voters would simply be instructed to "vote for one" of the candidates. The ballot would, however, identify the incumbent office holder.

"It would not say the word 'recall' anywhere," she said.

Whether elected or appointed, the replacement justice would serve until the next general election.


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