Nevada Passes Groundbreaking Bill to Restore Voting Rights to 77,000 This Summer

Issues

Bill that heads to Governor’s desk would eliminate complicated disenfranchisement scheme

CARSON CITY, NV – A bill that would automatically restore voting rights for anyone released from prison passed out of the Nevada legislature yesterday. The bill, AB 431, would undo Nevada’s current structure for the restoration of voting rights, which requires a lawyer to understand the complicated scheme of conditions. If the bill is signed by Governor Steve Sisolak, it would restore voting rights to more than 77,000 Nevadans, effective July 1.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) sent a letter today to Governor Sisolak urging him to sign this bill as soon as possible.

CLC launched Restore Your Vote in August 2018, a national campaign to restore voting rights to people with past convictions by providing direct rights restoration services and empowering community leaders to understand rights restoration laws. CLC chose Nevada as a priority state because of the ubiquitous belief that citizens with past convictions were barred from voting. This was largely due to the combination of a lack of state information and a jumble of conflicting information from county registrars. As part of the Restore Your Vote campaign, CLC hired community organizers based in Las Vegas and Reno, personally assisting nearly 875 people in the rights restoration process. CLC organizers spoke with many people across the state who were eligible to vote and hoped to do so, but could not locate required paperwork – and others who did not have the time or means to take the plethora of steps that the state demanded. They declined to register as a result. AB 431 eliminates the current complicated disenfranchisement scheme. With this new bill, it is simple. If you are in prison for a felony you cannot vote; if you are not, you can vote.

“Governor Sisolak should sign AB 431, which would take Nevada from one of the most restrictive states for voting rights restoration to one of the most inclusive,” said Danielle Lang, co-director, voting rights and redistricting at CLC. “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. We applaud the Nevada Legislature for passing this groundbreaking bill and look forward to Governor Sisolak’s signature on this important legislation. The question going forward shouldn’t be whether people returning to our society should be able to vote, but instead whether an American citizen should ever lose the cherished right to vote in the first place.”

The percentage of Nevadans disenfranchised due to felony convictions places them at number nine in the United States, according to ProCon. There are nearly 90,000 people in Nevada who have lost their voting rights because of a conviction but over two-thirds of them are post-sentence, meaning they can apply to restore their voting rights. Yet only 281 people used the court petition process to restore their rights from 1990-2011 – an average of only 13 per year.

Read the story of Las Vegas resident Kevin Wong, who learned about his voting rights from RestoreYourVote.org and registered to vote before the 2018 elections.