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ACLU suing Elko County for violating jail voting law

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a lawsuit Monday against Elko County for failing to create a process for inmates to vote while in jail.

Attorneys for the ACLU filed the lawsuit against the northeastern Nevada county after it failed to comply with a new law requiring city and jail administrators to develop a procedure to allow inmates to register to vote and vote while in jail.

ACLU attorney Sadmira Ramic called the county’s failure to comply with the law “a disservice to our democracy.”

“People who are incarcerated in county and city jails retain their constitutional right to vote,”Ramic said in a statement. “The refusal to comply with the parameters of (Assembly Bill) 286 is a disservice to our democracy. Anyone who maintains a lawful right to vote shouldn’t be denied that right.”

AB286 was passed during the 2023 legislative session and went into effect Jan. 1.

The organization filed the lawsuit after it received public records showing the county was not following the law.

In Southern Nevada, the Clark County Detention Center — which is operated by Metro — is nearly compliant with the law, said ACLU Executive Director Athar Haseebullah.

The cities of North Las Vegas and Henderson have updated their policies since the organization reached out, but still aren’t “fully compliant” with the law, Haseebullah said.

Other jails started to come into compliance with the law after receiving demand letters from the organization, according to the ACLU.

Those in jail are either awaiting trial or serving misdemeanor sentences, and therefore haven’t had their right to vote revoked.

When reached for comment, Elko County Clerk Becky Plunkett said she just found out about the lawsuit and hadn’t read it.

Contact Taylor R. Avery at TAvery@reviewjournal.com. Follow @travery98 on X.

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