On June 29, the Nevada Voters First campaign submitted signatures to qualify for the Nevada ballot in November. It happened the day after the Nevada Supreme Court ruled the initiative could go to a ballot.
The Nevada Supreme Court ruled in favor of Nevada voters first. The challenge to the ballot initiative, filed by Nathan Helton, argued that the measure violated the single subject rule. The Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling from January. Judge Douglas Herndon wrote in the opinion that “although [the measure] proposes two changes (open primary elections and preferential choice general elections for specified office holders), the two changes are functionally related and relevant to each other and the single subject of the framework by which the specified office holders are presented to voters and elected officials.
The campaign reported submitting 266,000 signatures, which exceeded the requirement of 135,561 valid signatures. Submitted signatures will need to be verified for the measure to be eligible for the Nevada ballot.
The ballot initiative would establish a top-five choice voting system, which would establish open top-five primaries and a choice vote for general elections. Rank-choice voting allows a voter to rank preference candidates from first to last. A candidate receiving first choice votes of more than 50% wins. If no candidate is the first choice by more than 50%, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. And each voter who had ranked the now-eliminated candidate as their first choice, sees their single vote transferred to their next highest candidate. This tabulation process would repeat itself until the only candidate with more than 50% support was determined as the winner.
In May, signatures were submitted for a top-four ballot initiative in Missouri. Preferential voting is also used for some elections in Alaska and Maine.
The Institute for Political Innovation, founded by Katherine Gehl, said: “With more than 35% of Nevada voters unable to vote in a primary because they are registered as independents or nonpartisan, and many more feel underrepresented by their respective parties, it is clear that this antiquated system must change.
Protect Your Vote Nevada, a committee opposed to the measure, said, “Their petition would make our elections unnecessarily confusing, convoluted and riddled with errors.”
If the initiative passes, it will join two other measures currently on the Nevada ballot in November — the Equal Rights Amendment, which would add language to the Nevada Constitution prohibiting race-based denial of rights, color, creed, sex, sexuality. gender orientation, identity or expression, age, disability, ancestry or national origin; and the Minimum Wage Amendment, which would raise Nevada’s minimum wage to $12 an hour.
If voters approve an amendment initiated in an election, it must win again in the next even-numbered year’s general election for it to become part of the constitution. In other words, if the initiative is approved in 2022, it must be approved again in 2024.