Jim Hartman: Nevada Voter ID initiative clears Supreme Court

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman

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The Nevada ballot initiative requiring voter identification cleared an important legal hurdle when the Nevada Supreme Court rejected a challenge to block the measure.

All seven justices voted to uphold a district court ruling that brings the initiative one important step closer to appearing on the November ballot.

The legal challenge was filed by Nevada and Washington, D.C., lawyers connected to the Nevada Democratic Party. The court found the initiative did not contain an unfunded mandate and determined the initiative’s description was legally sufficient.

The measure seeks to amend Nevada’s Constitution by requiring in-person voters to have valid photo identification and those voting by mail to provide a personally identifiable number – such as the last four digits of a driver’s license or Social Security number – alongside their signature.

Nevada does not require voters to provide any type of identification before voting, making it among only 14 states without voter ID rules.

The initiative offers a list of acceptable identification that would be required at the polls – a Nevada driver’s license, a passport, tribal or university ID, an ID card issued by a state or U.S. government, or another form of government-issued photo the Legislature may approve.

Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo made voter ID a centerpiece of his State of the State message in 2023. Democrats in the Legislature refused to even give it a hearing.

Before the initiative qualifies for the November ballot, backers must collect over 102,362 valid signatures by June 26. At least 25,591 of the signatures must come from each of Nevada’s four congressional districts.

The Nevada voter ID initiative is sponsored by “Repair the Vote,” a political action committee led by former Clark County GOP Chair David Gibbs.

According to Gibbs, over 146,000 Nevadans had signed initiative petitions as of June 11. The PAC emphasizes the need for additional signatures in CD’s 1 and 4.

“We’re moving forward,” Gibbs said. “We will get the signatures we need and turn it in and get this on the ballot.”

Volunteer signature gatherers work is now being boosted by paid petition circulators.

Lombardo’s political advisers put “Repair the Vote” in contact with a large benefactor who is helping fund the signature gathering effort.

This initiative is the second time “Repair the Vote” has attempted to place a voter ID ballot measure before voters. Last year, it failed to gather enough signatures.

Polls consistently show overwhelming support for voter ID.

A survey conducted by Pew Research in February found 81% of Americans back requiring photo ID to vote, including 95% of Republicans and 69% of Democrats.

A Nevada Independent poll last year reported 74% of Nevada registered voters across all demographic groups support a voter ID requirement: 62% of Democrats, 93% of Republicans and 68% of independents/non-partisans.

Supporters must submit the 102,362 valid signatures by June 26 to qualify the initiative for the ballot. If it qualifies, it’s very likely to pass in November.

As a proposed constitutional amendment, Nevada law requires that this initiative pass twice in subsequent elections (2024 and 2026) to take effect.

Nineteen years ago, Democrats were strong supporters of voter ID laws, including former President Jimmy Carter and former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle.

How things have changed. Democrats now bitterly resist voter ID as racist voter suppression.

The U.S. is an outlier among the world’s democracies in not requiring voter ID. Of the 47 countries in Europe today, all 47 of them currently require government-issued photos to vote.

In Nevada, whether it’s buying prescription drugs, driving a car, flying on a plane, photo ID is a requirement of everyday life.

Requiring voter photo ID is a common sense measure to ensure election integrity.

As the signature gathering deadline looms, here’s hoping the voter ID initiative qualifies for the November ballot.

E-mail Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com.

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