Nevada Assembly softens candidate filing requirements |

Nevada Assembly softens candidate filing requirements

BEN KIECKHEFER, Associated Press Writer

The Assembly voted unanimously Friday for a bill requiring Nevada candidates to swear they’ve never been convicted of a felony — but a provision requiring automatic background checks was erased.

AB285 was designed to alleviate problems that Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas, experienced in two different election cycles.

In the 2002 general election, Koivisto faced Richard Gardner — who managed to get his name onto Nevada’s ballot even though he had four criminal convictions. The convictions werne’t disclosed until later.

Felony convictions currently ban people from running for public office if their civil rights weren’t restored. Gardner pulled 34 percent of the vote despite his criminal past.

In 1998, Republican Michael Plaisted ran against her and won 37 percent of the vote though he didn’t live in the district, which is also a requirement to run for office.

Koivisto’s bill requires people filing a declaration of candidacy for public office to swear that if they were ever convicted of treason or a felony, their civil rights had been restored.

If the filing officer gets credible information that the person who signed the pledge doesn’t have the right to hold public office, that officer can conduct an investigation into the candidate’s background.

If the evidence holds up, it would be turned over to the attorney general or district attorney as a challenge to the person’s candidacy.

AB285 also requires people filing for office to show proof of residency in the form of photo identification containing the person’s address, or a current bill or paycheck.

Koivisto’s bill was originally much stricter, however, requiring all candidates to provide fingerprints for automatic background checks when declaring their candidacy for office.

Assemblywoman Chris Giunchigliani, D-Las Vegas, said the Assembly Committee on Elections, Procedures and Ethics thought requiring automatic background checks went a step too far.

“It was too much for fingerprinting, much less automatic background checks,” said Giunchigliani, the committee chairwoman.

Koivisto said she agreed with the amendment and that the bill as amended strengthens Nevada’s elections procedures. But she added that as amended, the measure still wouldn’t prevent someone from lying about a criminal record and getting on the ballot.

The bill now moves to the Senate for its consideration.