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Nevada voter ID ballot initiative scores legal victory

A Carson City judge rejected a lawsuit Monday aiming to block a ballot initiative that would require voter ID in Nevada.

Judge William Maddox declared the proposed ballot initiative by the Repair the Vote PAC constitutional and dismissed complaints that it contained an unfunded mandate.

“I’m excited about it,” David Gibbs, president of Repair the Vote PAC, said in a phone interview Monday. Gibbs had filed the initiative petition in November to amend the Nevada Constitution by requiring voters to present photo ID at a polling place and by adding an extra identification measure to mail ballots.

Maddox’s ruling will give the initiative a boost, Gibbs said. The organization has hundreds of volunteers collecting signatures, and it has until June 26 to come up with more than 110,000 valid signatures, or more than 25,000 signatures in each of Nevada’s congressional districts.

“I feel comfortable that we’re going to get the signatures we need and that we’re going to get this on the ballot in November,” he said.

In December, with the help of Democratic-linked attorneys, Nevada voter Jennifer Fleischmann with Make the Road Nevada filed a complaint aiming to block the initiative, arguing that the initiative was vague, would require an unfunded government expenditure and that each of the forms of ID that Gibbs lists in the petition would generally require the payment of a fee to a government entity.

The U.S. Supreme Court has held that requiring voters to pay a tax or a fee to obtain a photo ID to vote constitutes an unlawful poll, Fleischmann had argued.

Gibbs’ proposal offers a list of acceptable identification that would be required at the polls, including a Nevada driver’s license, a passport, tribal or university ID, an ID card issued by a state or U.S. government, or another form of government-issued photo ID that the Legislature may approve.

The Carson City judge determined that the language in the initiative was succinct, Gibbs said. Maddox was the same judge who took issue with the initiative’s description of effect in 2022 when Gibbs tried to push the initiative. This time around, he used the description from the judge’s ruling.

Maddox, whose actual order likely will not come out until next week, also dismissed the claim of an unfunded mandate, saying there is nothing in the initiative asking the government to spend money. Regarding the constitutional issue, Maddox left open the possibility of an issue arising down the road, but the judge had decided that the ballot initiative should be left for the voters to decide, according to Gibbs.

Fleischmann and her attorneys could not be reached for comment on whether they will appeal the ruling.

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

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