On February 20, 2014, the Lawyers’ Committee along with the ACLU of Nevada filed suit in state court in Nevada against the advocacy group Our Vote Nevada PAC and its founder, Sharon Angle, challenging their effort to place on the state election ballot an initiative that would amend the Nevada Constitution to require voters to present photographic proof of identity before casting a ballot. Plaintiffs are two individuals who are Nevada residents and registered voters.
Pursuant to the initiative language, voters would be required to present photo identification that includes the voter’s name, address, date of birth, and signature, and has an expiration date that is not more than four years prior to the election at which the identification is being used. The initiative also would require the Nevada Legislature to create a new type of voter identification card that registered voters in Nevada, who otherwise lack the required type of photo ID, would be able to apply for at no cost.
The lawsuit challenges, on several grounds, the description that defendants prepared for the initiative to accompany it when circulated for signatures. The description includes misleading and incomplete information regarding the multiple impacts the initiative would have on the State if passed, including inadequate information on the financial costs that would be borne by the State and its voters, the disproportionate impact of the photo ID requirement on minorities and other groups, and the changes that would be made to the Nevada Constitution and existing Nevada law. Accordingly, the proposed description would not provide adequate notice to individuals who are deciding whether to sign the initiative petition. The lawsuit asks the state court to require that defendants provide a complete and accurate description of the initiative prior to beginning to circulate it for signatures.
The state court ruled in plaintiffs’ favor on May 7, 2014, invalidating all signatures gathered with the inaccurate description. Defendants were then unable to gather sufficient signatures to get the initiative on the November 2014 ballot.