Nevada’s Senate Bill 499, signed into law by Governor Brian Sandoval, took effect on October 1, 2015. Lawmakers behind the bill claim the goal was to increase ballot access for minor party candidates.
Unfortunately – and this was a known fact at the time – the opposite is true.
Here’s how the new law works: Voters in Washoe County’s District 4 — which includes Spanish Springs, Sparks and Wadsworth — have only two candidates running for the county commission seat, incumbent Vaughn Hartung and former state Senator Maurice Washington, both Republicans.
Nevada holds a primary on June 14, where candidates for state, county and local offices are cull ahead of the run-up to the general election in the November. This primary is in addition to the February caucuses where Republicans and Democrats picked who they want to represent them for president.
Democrats, independents and those registered with third parties will have no vote in the primary, yet the winner will be the only choice in the fall when those voters get a chance to take part. Under the old system, the two would have skipped the primary and been placed on the fall ballot where all registered voters would have a chance to pick between them.
Under the new system, the two will face off in the primary. The top vote-getter will be the only candidate listed on the fall ballot for WC-4 voters. In other words, Washington or Hartung will win and will represent all residents in District 4, even though non-Republicans were initially unable to vote.
Such action on the part of both parties within the Nevada legislature is not only disgraceful, but it’s empirical evidence that they are nothing more than mirror reflections of one another as they usurp power from the people and fail to represent them.