The Nevada Supreme Court has ruled that the ballot question converting Nevada’s elections into an open primary and ranked-choice general election system can go on the November ballot.
At the same time, the court ruled petitioners were within their rights to withdraw two ballot measures that would have dramatically increased both the gaming and sales tax rates to fund K-12 education.
Both opinions, however, were decided on 4-3 votes by the justices.
In the case challenging the Better Voting Nevada question, the majority opinion written by Justice Doug Herndon rejected the argument that the question violates the Single Subject requirement saying that, while it changes both the primary and general election rules, those changes are functionally related and germane to each other and, therefore, don’t violate the single subject rule.
Opponents led by Justice Elissa Cadish argued those are clearly separate changes and, therefore, different subjects.
The majority also rejected the argument that the plain language description of effect is straightforward, succinct and nonargumentative while the minority argued the difficulty in keeping within the 200-word cap on the length of that description was inadequate and likely caused by the petition containing more than one subject in violation of the law.
Herndon was joined by Chief Justice Ron Parraguirre, and justices Abbi Silver and Kris Pickering.
On the other opinion, the court voted to reject Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s argument that sponsors could not withdraw the two tax petitions because she is constitutionally required to put it on the ballot. Justice Lidia Stiglich wrote that lawmakers wrote language permitting withdrawal, giving petition sponsors the ability to respond to changing circumstances and that withdrawal doesn’t implicate any constitutional requirements. She was joined in the majority by Parraguirre, Cadish and Herndon.
Justice Jim Hardesty wrote that the state constitution states that the Secretary of State, “shall” place the question on the general election ballot and that the statute permitting withdrawal should be declared unconstitutional.