Signature challenge stalls wage initiative | NevadaAppeal.com

Signature challenge stalls wage initiative

A technical challenge could prevent a minimum-wage petition from getting on November’s ballot in Nevada.

The petition asking voters to order a $1-an-hour raise in the minimum wage qualified in 13 Nevada counties and, if all the signatures are counted, has more than the 51,337 total names needed to get on the ballot.

Clark County voter registrar Larry Lomax said about 14,000 of those signatures are in question because the “affidavit of document signer” is not one of the signers of the petition. Instead, it is from the person who collected the signatures.

A 1966 Nevada Supreme Court decision says the names must be tossed out and not counted. But a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court case says the circulator of a petition need not be a registered voter.

Without those 13,000 signatures, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Renee Parker advised the Nevada Attorney General’s Office that the petition doesn’t qualify for the November ballot. At the same time, Parker wrote, the office has been challenged for allowing a document signer to sign multiple petition sheets and execute multiple affidavits – which is done by people hired to collect petition signatures.

She said the same issues could also affect several other petitions attempting to qualify for this year’s ballot.

Parker requested a legal ruling on whether those signatures should be counted or not by Friday, saying county clerks need an answer so they can prepare all the ballot questions in time to meet election deadlines.

“We believe it would be in the best interests of the citizens of Nevada to seek some sort of court resolution of this issue because further delays could have an adverse impact on election preparation and defending multiple legal challenges in various jurisdictions risks the potential for inconsistent decisions,” she wrote.

Tom Sargent of the Attorney General’s Office said the office is working on a response to the letter.

The petition would increase the minimum wage in Nevada to $6.15 an hour for those who do not receive benefits or tips and are more than 18 years old.

Contact Geoff Dornan at gdornan@nevadaappeal.com or 687-8750.