Whose bias is showing?
September 21, 2004
At a time when voter apathy and disenfranchisement is at an all-time high, the Nevada Supreme Court and the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association have added ammunition to the fire.
The court’s order that my office rewrite the explanation of the “Keep Our Doctors in Nevada” ballot question at the request of the Trial Lawyers Association smacks of politics and will no doubt give more citizens a good reason to think that elections are about those in power and not about the will of the people. And you know what that saying about power is: Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately.
As secretary of state, my responsibility is to create the condensation and explanation language for qualifying initiative petitions that is as neutral as possible. It is not to define the issue, as that is the purpose of the “for” and “against” arguments and subsequent rebuttals, not to mention the advertising campaign waged by both sides of a controversial issue.
To clarify, those arguments and rebuttals are not conceived by this office but rather by citizen committees as required by NRS 293.252. It is also my responsibility as the state’s chief election officer to provide Nevada citizens with the opportunity to vote on controversial issues, not to use a court and/or cloak-and-dagger tactics to deny voters their rightful say.
The decision by the Nevada Supreme Court – at the beckoning of the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association – places an extraordinary burden on the county clerks/registrars of voters to reprint ballots and sample ballots at a price tag that will exceed $500,000. But the greater burden may be on our military personnel, who may not receive a ballot in time for the general election.
I’m sure the Trial Lawyers Association, who knew this was the case, gave that argument great weight, as most citizens know that as a general rule, trial lawyers always look out for the interest of average citizens. I have informed Gov. Guinn that an executive order allowing military and overseas citizens the ability to vote via fax or overnight mail may be needed, or risk the voices of our brave men and women fighting for our freedoms not being heard during this election.
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The disingenuous argument put forth by the Trial Lawyers Association is that they did not have sufficient time to review the explanation because it was not published until Aug. 26. In fact, the condensation and explanation were placed on my office’s Web site on July 28.
After receiving input from the Trial Lawyers Association – which obviously read that information – that the explanation was, in their estimate, not complete, changes were made and the revised explanation was once again placed on the Web site in early August. I know it’s hard for many citizens to believe that trial lawyers would stretch the truth to fit the “facts” they want to present, but those are the true facts. I’m sure the general public will be “stunned” by this revelation.
Actually, what all Nevadans should be stunned by is that members of our state Supreme Court would fall for the arguments put forth by the Trial Lawyers Association, but then again, a trial lawyer is a trial lawyer is a trial lawyer. Since many members of the Nevada Supreme Court are former trial lawyers themselves, it is not hard to draw a line connecting the dots. Ambitious reporters and citizens might also want to draw a line between the campaign reports of said justices and the decision reached by certain members of the court.
The bottom line is this: Who has a more vested interest in keeping Question 3 off the ballot or pulling the wool over the eyes of the citizenry, the secretary of state or the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association? And make no mistake, the ultimate goal of the Nevada Trial Lawyers Association is not to make the explanation more clear, but to keep you from voting on this issue.
Secretary of State Dean Heller released this statement on Tuesday.