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Lawsuit to block Nevada election worker protection law dismissed

Updated April 10, 2024 - 6:44 pm

A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit aiming to block a new Nevada law that makes harassing election workers a felony.

Judge Cristina Silva ruled Monday that the plaintiffs failed to allege a credible threat of prosecution and ruled that an injury cannot be hypothetical.

Four Nevada residents filed a federal lawsuit in June against the Election Worker Protection Act, which makes it a crime for any person to threaten, intimidate, coerce or use any act of violence against an election official with the intent to interfere in an election.

Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar had spearheaded the legislation, Senate Bill 406, during the 2023 legislative session and Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo signed into law in May.

The residents, who say they have worked as poll workers, argued that the new law is overbroad and vague and violates the First and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

One of those residents is Robert Beadles, a Northern Nevada resident who has long touted claims of election fraud, falsely accusing the Washoe County registrar of voters of counting fraudulent votes. After a flood of harassing calls from people who thought she was part of a conspiracy to rig the 2020 election, Registrar Deanna Spikula resigned, fearing for her family’s safety.

Plaintiffs complained that an election worker might misinterpret their clients’ actions at a polling location, and therefore the plaintiffs could be wrongly prosecuted. That fear of prosecution discouraged the plaintiffs from participating as poll or election observers, which constitutes a “chilling” of their constitutional rights, they argued.

Silva dismissed the lawsuit in October, finding that the plaintiffs failed to allege a threat of “imminent, credible harm” sufficient to grant standing, but gave the plaintiffs the opportunity to file an amended complaint, which they did in November.

On Monday, Silva ruled that the plaintiffs again failed to allege a credible threat of prosecution. She found that and they failed to demonstrate a basis to suggest enforcement is likely and that past prosecution has occurred. Because she had already given the plaintiffs a chance to amend the complaint and did not produce “serviceable” allegations, she dismissed the complaint without the opportunity to amend.

Attorney Sigal Chattah, who represented the plaintiffs, declined to comment Tuesday. The secretary of state’s office did not return a request for comment.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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