Anti-tax question appears headed for defeat
August 26, 2004
A petition seeking to repeal tax increases approved by the 2003 Legislature went down to the wire Thursday and, with only one county still tallying signatures, appeared headed for failure.
The petition drive, labeled “Axe the Tax” by its proponents, has a long and tortured history in its attempt to get on the November ballot.
Organizers headed by George Harris of Las Vegas and Independent American Party official and lawyer Joel Hansen first complained to a judge they were unfairly prevented from gathering signatures by officials at the Department of Motor Vehicles and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Without that interference, they argued, they would easily have collected the 51,337 signatures needed to make the ballot.
A judge, setting aside Nevada’s deadlines for submission of ballot questions, gave them an extra 35 days and ordered officials not to interfere.
Supporters turned in the petitions after that period was up, but Secretary of State Dean Heller initially ruled the ballot question still failed — missing the minimum number of signatures by 2,130. Harris cried foul and Heller ordered county election officials to count and verify every petition signature.
Most county clerks finished those counts Thursday and sent in the results. Clark was the only county not reporting as of 5 p.m.
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Using new totals submitted by 16 counties plus Clark’s old numbers – which were based on a 5 percent sample – the statewide total was 48,386.
That is 2,951 short of the minimum. Unless Clark’s new total goes up that much, Harris’ petition to repeal the 2003 tax increases fails to qualify for the ballot.
Clark officials advised Heller’s office they doubted the number was going to increase when the count was finished.
Even if the petition does qualify, the Nevada Taxpayers Association goes before Carson District Judge Bill Maddox on Monday to argue the question should be kept off the November ballot for a variety of other reasons.
Reach Geoff Dornan at firstname.lastname@example.org or 687-8750.