Nevada officials have axed a man’s efforts to create a new political party in the state. Its name? WTF.
The rejection by the secretary of state’s office violates Jeffrey K. Berns’ constitutional rights to free speech and equal protection, his attorneys argue in a lawsuit filed this week.
According to the complaint, the office expressed concern in May that the acronym may be offensive to a substantial portion of the electorate because it’s an acronym for a well-known profanity.
When given an opportunity to prove otherwise by the secretary of state’s office, Berns is adamant that the party name was not what state officials thought:
“‘WTF’ stands for nothing more than ‘W,’ ‘T,’ and ‘F,’ and the letters are not an abbreviation and have no additional meaning,” the complaint maintains.
Berns, a resident of Douglas County, is seeking a court order to require the secretary of state’s office to accept the organizational documents for the WTF Party to qualify as a minor political party in Nevada. Damages sought also include legal fees.
Messages left with his lawyers and the secretary of state’s office Friday were not returned.
According to the book “Political History of Nevada,” 22 political parties have qualified to appear on the Silver State’s ballots since statehood in 1864. They’ve included the Silver Party, the Emigration Party, the Fusion Party, the Green Party, the Populist Party, the Progressive Party, the Social Party, the U.S. Constitution Party and the Veterans Party.
The Republican and Democratic parties are the state’s only major parties, although the Independent American Party and the Libertarian Party have ballot access as well. The Nevada Green Party, the Alliance Party of Nevada, the Nevada Transhumanist Party and the Middleground Party don’t currently have ballot access.
A substantial number of voters are registered as “nonpartisan,” Nevada’s version of independent.
The procedure for creating a new minor political party is found in NRS 293.171, but the
State statute contains no restrictions on the name of the party or specific prohibitions on obscene, vulgar or profane words.