As foreseen in pre-election polling, Nevadans on Tuesday wanted no part of four attempts by the political establishment to empower and expand government.
Statewide Questions 1 through 4 — seeking (respectively) to replace open judicial elections with appointments and retention votes; to create a new appellate court; to make it easier for lawmakers to impose sales taxes on Internet purchases; and to repeal portions of voter-approved eminent domain restrictions — lost.
Nevadans didn’t buy the claim that giving up their vote on the selection of judges would take money and politics out of the process. This is the third time such an initiative has failed.
As for the appellate court, proponents will need to do a better job of convincing voters this new judicial layer won’t soon be housed in its own multimillion-dollar marble mausoleum — with free parking for judges only.
Nor was there much public sympathy for arguments that the checks on government went too far in a previously approved constitutional amendment protecting property owners involved in eminent domain proceedings.
The bigger question is why our ballot now contains so few reforms proposed by mere taxpaying peons. The answer is that the Legislature has gone much too far in placing unconstitutional obstacles in the path of citizen referenda. Court rulings have consistently thrown out arbitrary obstacles, such as requirements that signatures be gathered in every county, or that petition-passers be registered to vote wherever they’re standing.
The sheer number of signatures required to qualify a question for the ballot is an adequate safeguard against a blizzard of frivolous proposals. The Legislature must pare away such restrictions.