• Ian Cook and Diether Llaneza

Question 4: On Enshrining Voting Rights Security in Nevada

Ian Cook and Diether Llaneza report on Question 4 of Nevada’s 2020 ballot, which deals with voting rights and would be an addition to the second article of the state’s constitution.

Question 4 would add the Declaration of Voters Rights to the second article of the Nevada Constitution. Art by Diether Llaneza

Raising Voting Rights from Statute to the Constitution

Among questions of gender equality and renewable energy this election year, question 4 of the 2020 Nevada ballot is relatively uncontroversial.

The amendment in question, called the State Constitutional Rights of Voters Amendment, would elevate many of Nevadans’ written voting rights from a statute to the state constitution. The content of the Voters’ Bill of Rights is already in effect under the 2003 statute, but placing it in Nevada’s Constitution would make any future changes impossible without another vote from Nevadans.

The amendment is a straightforward proposal. If passed, its content would be identical to the statute and could be included in the Nevada constitution by Nov. 24.

Proponents advocate the Voter’s Bill of Rights for the security it gives voter rights and the ease by which it can be passed. Formal opposition to the amendment is uncommon — Nevada lawmakers voted almost unanimously in favor of its addition in 2017 and 2019 during legislative sessions — but the question’s Senate Joint Resolution offers that some may deem it a “solution in search of a problem.”

The Nevada Transhumanist Party, which advocates for science and technology, opposes the measure due to the wording of the proposal. On their website, they state that “some of the proposed constitutional protections could, as an unintended consequence, entrench an already-obsolete paper-based voting system.”

Question 4 is relatively brief on the ballot, but in elections increasingly fraught with questions of election security and voter suppression, its implications could be crucial.

Increasingly Important Protections

“As political tensions are rising in recent years it’s important now more than ever for every group to be recognized through their ballots,” Colby O’Malley, a 23-year-old Reno resident, said. “Whether they are minority groups or rural residents that might have otherwise been overlooked, they should all be fairly represented in our democracy.”

O’Malley voted in the 2018 midterm, and decided to do more research into this year’s elections and ballot questions to protect himself from misinformation. “The protection of voter rights to cast their ballots without fear or manipulation of said votes is an essential function of our democracy,” he said.

Question 4 would add the Declaration of Voters’ Rights, passed in 2003. The declaration stipulates that a ballot is “written in a format that allows the clear identification of candidates” and “accurately records the voter’s preference in the selection of candidates.” Questions on voting procedures are also to be answered and an explanation of voting procedures need to be posted in a conspicuous place at polling station.

Question 4 would also provide registered voters with other constitutional rights, such as answering questions on voting procedures, protection from intimidation or coercion, the ability to vote past closing if in line, uniform procedures across all Nevada voting centers, and the guarantee of voting ability regardless of race, age, disability, military service, employment or overseas residence. Question 4 also stipulates that complaints about elections and election contests are resolved fairly, accurately and efficiently.

Reporting by Ian Cook and Diether Llaneza for the Reynolds Sandbox

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