The seats of Nevada Supreme Court Justices Mark Gibbons and Kris Pickering will be up for nonpartisan election on November 3, 2020. Pickering is seeking re-election while Gibbons is not. Pickering is unopposed for the November election to reclaim her seat. Ozzie Fumo and Douglas Herndon will face each other in an effort to fill Gibbons’ seat on the court.
Almost every justice on the court won their seat in a nonpartisan election. The lone exception is Justice Stiglich, who was appointed by Republican Governor Brian Sandoval in 2016.
Justices on the Nevada Supreme Court are elected in nonpartisan elections for six-year terms. Whenever a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement.
Across all types of state supreme court elections, incumbent justices running for re-election won 93% of the time from 2008-2019. Nevada has not seen an incumbent supreme court justice lose an election during this same time frame.
Fair Maps Nevada, the campaign behind the Nevada Independent Redistricting Commission Initiative, did not submit signatures by the August 3 deadline. Originally the deadline was June 24, but it was extended by a court ruling. On July 24, 2020, Doug Goodman, founder and executive director of Nevadans for Election Reform; Sondra Cosgrove, chair of Fair Maps Nevada; and Vivian Leal, a member of Indivisible Northern Nevada Fair Democracy Team, wrote that “Fair Maps Nevada will not be able to collect the necessary signatures by the court-set, and county election official agreed to deadline of August 3.” The campaign said that it would attempt to put the initiated constitutional amendment on the 2022 ballot.
The ballot measure would have transferred the power to draw the state’s congressional and legislative districts from the state legislature to a seven-member independent redistricting commission.
The signature deadline was extended from June 24 to August 3 after Fair Maps Nevada filed a lawsuit against the state on May 7 seeking permission to use electronic signatures and asking for a six-week extension of the signature deadline. In their lawsuit, petitioners argued that the state’s actions to slow the spread of the coronavirus made it “extremely difficult to collect signatures to qualify the initiative for the ballot in a traditional in-person manner.”
On May 29, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Miranda Du ruled partially in favor of the petitioners granting them more time to gather signatures. In her decision, she argued that Governor Steve Sisolak’s (D) stay-at-home order made it impossible for the campaign to gather signatures and that not changing the statutory deadline was “unreasonable and unfair.” Judge Du did not grant the petitioners’ request to use electronic signatures citing concerns of fraud and legal precedent on courts changing election rules. In her ruling, the new deadline was August 5, but the campaign and state officials later agreed to move it to August 3.
The ruling only applied to the petitioners in this case and did not extend to the Fountainhead Society, the campaign behind the Single Transferable Vote and Multimember Senate Districts Initiative. Benjamin Pennington, the founder of the Fountainhead Society, said that the campaign would submit an “improved initiative” for the 2022 cycle.
In Nevada, the number of signatures required to qualify an initiated constitutional amendment for the ballot is equal to 10% of the total votes cast in the most recent general election. Moreover, signature gathering must be distributed equally among each of the state’s four congressional districts. Initiated constitutional amendments that qualify for the ballot must be approved at two consecutive general elections.
Nevada voters will be deciding on five statewide ballot measures in November—four legislatively referred constitutional amendments and one initiated constitutional amendment.
• Question 1, Remove Constitutional Status of Board of Regents Amendment: Removes the constitutional status of the Board of Regents
• Question 2, Marriage Regardless of Gender Amendment: Recognizes the marriage of couples regardless of gender
• Question 3, State Board of Pardons Commissioners Amendment: Revises duties of the State Board of Pardons Commissioners
• Question 4, State Constitutional Rights of Voters Amendment: Creates a constitutional right to certain voting procedures and policies
• The Renewable Energy Standards Initiative: Requires utilities to acquire 50% of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030
Between 1995 and 2018, the Nevada State Legislature referred 31 constitutional amendments to the ballot, while voters decided 26 citizen-initiated constitutional amendments. The legislature’s proposed amendments were approved at a lower rate (48.39%) than citizen-initiated amendments (73.08%).
Clark County commissioners in Nevada appointed Kasina Douglass-Boone (D), a social worker for Clark County Schools, on July 7 to represent District 17 in the Nevada State Assembly. The seat has been vacant since the late Representative Tyrone Thompson (D) died on May 4, 2019.
Douglass-Boone is not running for the District 17 state House seat has been represented by a Democrat since at least 2003. She recently ran for election to represent District B on the Clark County School Board, finished third with 15% of the vote. District 17
Except for a power-sharing agreement from 1994 to 1996 and a Republican majority from 2014 to 2016, the Democratic Party has controlled a majority of seats in the assembly since 1992. The chamber flipped from 27-15 Democratic Party control to 27-15 Republican Party control in 2014, and back to a 27-15 Democratic majority in 2016.
Federal court judge Richard Boulware on May 15, 2020, denied a request to extend the signature-gathering period for the recall effort against Gov. Steve Sisolak (D). Fight For Nevada, the group behind the recall effort, requested an extension of the 90-day period to collect signatures equal to the length of the state’s coronavirus stay-at-home order. Supporters of the recall had until May 14 to collect the 243,995 signatures needed to require a recall election. County officials have until May 20 to report the signature totals to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.
Boulware wrote in the order, “The Court does not find that an inability to file this particular recall petition presents a severe burden when Plaintiff has not established with any detail what additional burden or inconvenience it faces if the Secretary does not extend the deadline.”
Recall supporters criticized Sisolak over his support for laws related to firearms, a statewide income tax, metering of private water wells, and a DMV policy for reporting mileage.
Nevada became a Democratic trifecta in 2019. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state Assembly by a 28-13 margin with one vacancy and the state Senate by a 13-8 margin. Gov. Sisolak (D) succeeded Brian Sandoval (R) as governor in 2019.
Four gubernatorial recall efforts are currently underway in 2020. From 2003 to 2019, Ballotpedia tracked 21 gubernatorial recall efforts. During that time, two recalls made the ballot, and one governor was successfully recalled. Former California Gov. Gray Davis (D) was recalled in 2003 and replaced by Arnold Schwarzenegger (R). In 2012, former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) was retained in a recall election. The only other governor to ever be successfully recalled was former North Dakota Gov. Lynn Frazier (R) in 1921.
Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman is facing a recall effort after she appeared on CNN to make the case that Las Vegas should be allowed to begin reopening during the coronavirus pandemic. Goodman said the city could be used as a control group for opening up a city after a shutdown.
The notice of intent to recall Goodman was filed by Doug Polk, who accused Goodman of failing to represent her constituency in a statement given after the petitions were filed. He said the recall effort was started over “her clear disregard for public health, but also in her support for the casino owners over the people of Las Vegas. Additionally, she is barely able to speak coherent sentences while discussing the subject matter. She is unfit to serve as the mayor of Las Vegas.”
Goodman responded to the recall effort. She said, “You know, this is America. That’s his choice. Everybody’s entitled to their own political opinions.”
Petitioners seeking to recall a public official in Nevada are required to collect valid signatures of at least 25 percent of the voter turnout in the election when the official most recently won their seat. Circulation of the recall petition must be completed within 90 days after registration. Following this, the Secretary of State determines whether or not the petition is sufficient based upon the county clerk or registrars’ certified results of the signature verification. The filing officer then issues a call for a special election in the jurisdiction represented by the officeholder being recalled between 10 and 20 days after the Secretary of State has given notification that the petition is sufficient, unless a court complaint has been filed. The special election must then be held within 30 days after the filing officer issues this call.
The notice of intent was filed on May 6. Petitioners have until August 4 to submit 6,745 valid signatures for the recall to move forward.
In 2019, Ballotpedia covered a total of 151 recall efforts against 230 elected officials. Of the 66 officials whose recalls made it to the ballot, 34 were recalled for a rate of 52%. That was lower than the 63% rate and 57% rate for 2018 and 2017 recalls, respectively.
On April 29, 2020, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) announced plans to extend the state’s stay-at-home order but stated that he will lift some restrictions that the state put in place, including on outdoor activities and curbside pickup at retailers. He did not state how long the extension of the stay-at-home order would last.
Gov. Sisolak also said yesterday on Twitter that he would provide details about a plan to reopen the state after the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, April 30.
So far, 43 of the 50 states issued statewide shutdown orders. Eight of those orders are set to last until modified or rescinded by the governor, while the other 35 announced end dates.
Although the names of the orders—shelter-in-place, stay-at-home, stay home, stay safe—vary from state to state, they include at least two common elements: the closure of nonessential businesses and requesting all residents to stay home except for essential trips.
On Tuesday, Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year. Prior to the announcement, schools were to remain closed through April 30.
Thirty-eight states have now closed schools to in-person instruction for the remainder of the academic year: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Those states account for 81.2% of the 50.6 million public school students in the country.
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