Nevada Governor Signs Bill Restoring Voting Rights to Former Felons
Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed a sweeping criminal justice reform bill Wednesday that will restore the voting rights of ex-felons, a measure he said will re-enfranchise 77,000 people when it goes into effect on July 1.
Sisolak, a Democrat and outspoken proponent of election reforms ranging from same-day registration to expanded early voting, announced his signing of the bill, AB431, via Twitter Wednesday afternoon.
He also signed a second bill, AB192, establishing a process for sealing the records of people convicted of an offense that has been decriminalized — a move made necessary due to the state’s legalization of marijuana.
In his tweets, Sisolak said the pair of bills “restore fairness and justice to thousands of Nevadans.”
“I’m so excited about the positive impact these bills will have on our communities, especially communities of color,” he said.
Prior to signing the bills, the governor told those assembled in his office he “firmly believes we should be doing everything we can to expand access to the ballot box, not restrict it.”
“This also includes people who have paid their debts to society after committing a crime. Not only is restoring their right to vote the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing to do,” he said.
With Sisolak’s signature, Nevada becomes the 38th state to automatically restore voting rights to those released from prison. The District of Columbia has a similar law.
The Nevada Legislature passed the voting rights measure on May 23. Once it goes into effect, it will immediately allow ex-felons to vote, including those convicted in another state.
The bill also allows people convicted of a crime, but not imprisoned, to cast a ballot. The measure applies retroactively to previously released offenders.
All eight Republicans in the state Senate opposed the bill, arguing it went too easy on people convicted of serious, violent crimes. Despite their opposition, the bill passed the chamber with a 13-8 vote.
However, three Republicans in the state Assembly joined their 29 Democratic colleagues in passing the measure by a 32-9 vote, sending it to the governor’s desk.
“Nevada is turning the page on outdated laws in our criminal justice system that punish individuals long after they have served their time,” said state Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson in a written statement.
Frierson, who sponsored AB 431, went on to say that his bill “seeks to help people as they transition back into society.
“The point of the bill is clear,” he said. “When men and women have completed their sentence and rejoin society, they should be able to fully embrace civic engagement, and that includes voting.”
Nevada Democrats have been working to increase voter turnout after winning both the governorship and the state legislature during the 2018 elections. It has been estimated that the new law will re-enfranchise more than 3% of Nevada’s voting-age population.
Also pending in the legislature is a bill that would automatically register people to vote when they get their drivers’ licenses as well as allowing for same-day voter registration.
Among the organizations who had been urging Sisolak to sign the bill was the Campaign Legal Center, in Washington, D.C., which launched a national campaign in August 2018 to restore voting rights to ex-felons nationwide.
By signing the law, said Danielle Lang, co-director of voting rights and redistricting at the center, Sisolak took Nevada from being one of the most restrictive states for voting rights restoration to one of the most inclusive.
“Not only does this bill legally re-enfranchise tens of thousands of Nevadans, it also removes the confusing administrative hurdles that prevented previously eligible voters from ever realizing their rights,” Lang said.
In The News
WASHINGTON - As state governments weigh their responses to the coronavirus pandemic, religious groups across America have voiced concerns that lockdown measures could infringe on their constitutional rights. Last month, police broke up a gathering of 16 people at Lighthouse Fellowship Church, a small congregation on... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court appeared to be divided Wednesday over the future of a pair of Trump administration rules that allow employers who cite a religious or moral objection to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women required by the Affordable Care Act.... Read More
MIAMI — Last month, police departments in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Connecticut unveiled what was initially touted as a potential new tool against a pandemic: drones capable of taking a person’s temperature from 300 feet in the air. Both agencies quickly backtracked on using the machines... Read More
WASHINGTON — It is a big promise from Silicon Valley to a nation looking for ways to be freed from home confinement: Smartphones could discreetly detect those who may have COVID-19 and nudge them to quarantine, blunting renewed outbreaks as Americans start to once again venture... Read More
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday that he will sign an executive order “to temporarily suspend immigration into the United States” because of the coronavirus. “In light of the attack from the Invisible Enemy, as well as the need to protect the jobs of... Read More
WASHINGTON - House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer urged the National Governors Association Friday to direct its members to collect demographic data on racial disparities and the coronavirus outbreak. Hoyer's request, directed to Govs. Larry Hogan, of Maryland, and Andrew Cuomo, of New York, the chair and... Read More