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Judge denies Sisolak recall group more time to gather signatures

Updated May 15, 2020 - 9:05 pm

The group trying to recall Gov. Steve Sisolak will not get an extension of time to gather more signatures, a federal judge ruled Friday.

Fight for Nevada filed the lawsuit Monday against Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske asking for the court to grant extension of time to gather signatures that is equal to the length of the state of emergency directive Sisolak issued on March 12, which remains in effect two months later.

To qualify the recall petition, the group needed to gather 243,995 signatures — or one quarter of the signatures of those who voted in the 2018 election.

At the halfway mark of the 90-day signature gathering, which was also when Sisolak’s formal stay-at-home order went into effect, Fight for Nevada had gathered just 15,892 signatures.

The deadline to submit the signatures for the recall petition to county election officials was Thursday.

During a Thursday videoconference hearing in the case, Fight for Nevada’s attorney Robert Barnes said that the group had “momentum” before the governor’s directives were put in place and that the restrictions imposed by Sisolak’s stay-at-home order “were pretty draconian” and had made it significantly more difficult for the group to gather signatures.

The judge disagreed.

“That the Plaintiff was already so far from its goal by March 30, 2020, gives less credence to the argument that the emergency directives, as opposed to other reasons, such as a lack of diligence, prevented Plaintiff from acquiring the requisite signature,” Judge Richard Boulware wrote in his decision.

Barnes also argued that the current directives infringe on constitutional rights to free speech, political association and to vote, which created irreparable harm.

But Boulware again disagreed, noting that there is nothing stopping the group from filing a new recall petition and that the group even has the names and addresses of more than 15,000 people who have already signed the petition if it does so.

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Colton Lochhead at clochhead@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ColtonLochhead on Twitter.

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