Court reverses ruling allowing recall election

CARSON CITY -- The Nevada Supreme Court on a 7-0 vote has reversed a lower court decision that allowed a recall election against two Boulder City Council members to proceed.

Justices ruled that the group that launched a recall effort against council members Linda Strickland and Travis Chandler in 2008 did not collect enough signatures from actual voters to qualify for a recall election.

In the decision by Justice Kris Pickering, the court said the state constitution requires those who seek to recall public officers to collect signatures of at least 25 percent of the voters who "actually" voted in the election when the officers won their seats.

In the case of Strickland and Chandler, recall supporters collected enough total signatures, according to the court, but some were of people do did not vote in the elections in which the two council members were elected.

"Counting only the signatures of people who voted in the relevant election, neither petition met the 25 percent needed to qualify," Pickering wrote.

In the decision, she recounted the history of the recall constitutional amendment, which went into effect in 1912, and how it was amended in 1970.

She also wrote that the Webster's Dictionary definition of "actually" means a voter "really" must have voted in the election in which the officer subject to recall was elected.

The Supreme Court noted that in 2009 legislators passed a law stating any registered voter, including those who did not vote in the election of the affected public officer, could sign recall petitions. Then in January, Carson City District Judge James Todd Russell, noting the new law, ruled the recall election could proceed.

But the Supreme Court pointed out the law went into effect last October, a year after the recall petitions were collected.

As the result, the law "postdated the petitions to recall Strickland and Chandler and so doesn't directly apply to them." In addition, the court stated laws must be written "consistent with the constitution."

The ruling, made Thursday, upholds the decisions made by Secretary of State Ross Miller about the recall election.