Regulations for restoring voting rights delayed
The Legislative Commission’s subcommittee to review regulations decided Tuesday to delay a decision on regulations for restoring the voting rights of ex-felons.
The rules were held up after Legislative Counsel Brenda Erdoes advised lawmakers she believes those rules go beyond what is normally handled in regulations. She said they would be “more appropriate for statute than regulation.”
Sen. Maggie Carlton, D-Las Vegas, objected saying that would nullify a carefully crafted compromise designed to give certain ex-felons the right to vote again.
One of the examples they saw during the 2007 Legislature was a Las Vegas man who had been denied the right to vote more than 20 years ago because of a marijuana possession conviction when he was a teenager.
Nevada is one of the few states left that has traditionally barred ex-felons from voting forever unless they receive a pardon from the Pardon’s Board.
Carlton said if the rules were delayed until the 2009 Legislature, those people would lose the right to vote in upcoming elections.
Elections Deputy Matt Griffin, of the Secretary of State’s office, said the real reason for the regulations was to “bring some uniformity between the clerks.” He said the issue is what proof the ex-felon must provide showing eligibility to register to vote.
Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said the issue is that many of those people can’t get documents proving they are eligible for restoration of voting rights.
“It’s so hard to get these documents. The jail won’t provide them, the police won’t provide them,” she said.
Buckley urged the subcommittee not to reject the proposed rules, agreeing with Carlton that would just set the new laws back another two years.
But other members objected to the provision authorizing county clerks to accept sworn affidavits from those attempting to register that they are qualified to do so.
Clark County Voter Registrar Larry Lomax said if they were convicted in Nevada, they can get the documents from Nevada’s Department of Corrections. He said a big problem is ex-felons coming to Nevada from California, which has a system automatically restoring inmate voting rights.
“If they committed a felony and that state doesn’t give them documents – and a lot of them don’t – they’re up a creek,” he said.
Buckley suggested the subcommittee delay any decision on the regulations and have the secretary of state’s office, attorney general, legislative counsel and lawmakers find a compromise.
Subcommittee Chairman Sen. Warren Hardy, R-Las Vegas, agreed saying he can’t support the current proposal but believes they can find a compromise that works.
“This is something we’ve got to get right,” he said.
• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at email@example.com or 687-8750.