If an election doesn’t go your way, you don’t get to call a do-over. Part of respecting our democracy is respecting the will of the voters.
That’s why Nevada Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson, a Henderson Republican, should be ashamed of himself. Roberson’s fear that he won’t win back the majority in the state Senate has led him to a new level of political gamesmanship. The three recall campaigns going on in Nevada right now led by Roberson are a spiteful, cowardly way to fabricate democracy that puts his party ahead of election integrity.
You see, in rare cases, voters have the option to recall an elected official who has so betrayed their interests that a referendum is necessary to call for their replacement. But this process isn’t meant to replace periodic elections, and this abuse of the recall process is an assault on democracy.
States Sens. Joyce Woodhouse, Patricia Farley and Nicole Cannizzaro won their elections fair and square. Voters followed the democratic tradition and elected the three senators for a full term. Forcing an election early — like Roberson is trying to do — undercuts how elections are scheduled, which is just as much a part of the process as how many votes it takes to win an office.
Roberson is representing the worst of politics, and his actions threaten to normalize the permanent campaign and totally hamstring elected officials who are trying to govern.
The option to recall elected officials is an important one. Our representatives should always be mindful that they answer to their constituents, and if they act in malfeasance, their job may be on the line. But using the recall as a way to reverse the results of an election, or to hold a snap election, is simply undemocratic.
Roberson is using the argument that the Nevada Constitution “gives citizens the right to remove elected officials for any reason.” While the provision may be broad, the caveats should be obvious. You don’t get to recall a senator just because you don’t like her or just because you want the seat for your own party. But that’s what members of the GOP Senate leadership in Nevada want to do. They want to rig the game because they’re worried they can’t win.
Politicians such as Roberson should have to answer for injecting partisan politics into the administration of elections. In 2018, Roberson is running for lieutenant governor. With a track record like his, there’s no telling how far he would go to manipulate the office for his political gain. He can’t be rewarded with higher office, and Let America Vote will be sure that he faces the political consequences of his corruption.
Jason Kander is president of Let America Vote and chairman of the Democratic National Committee’s Commission to Protect American Democracy.