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October 20, 2014

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Angle-backed voter initiatives fall short

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Nevada congressional candidate Sharron Angle answers questions from the media in Reno on Monday, March 22, 2011.

The petitions to amend the Nevada Constitution to require voter registration cards and to scuttle the state’s health insurance system won’t be on the election ballot this November.

Former Republican U.S. Senate hopeful and tea party activist Sharron Angle, who led the drive on both issues, said there were not enough signatures on the petitions by the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline.

“We fell short,” she said. There was no estimate on how many names had been collected, she said.

To qualify for the ballot, 101,667 registered voters had to sign each petition and there was an additional requirement that 25,417 of the signatures must come from each of the state's four congressional districts.

Angle said there wasn’t enough time to obtain the signatures. The ACLU filed suit claiming the language in the summary of the voter identification petition was defective. District Judge Todd Russell of Carson City ruled last month that the petition had to be reworded and threw out all the signatures gathered up to that point.

Allen Lichtenstein, counsel for the ACLU that filed the legal challenge, said he was “not totally surprised” that the petitions failed to reach the mark. He said the voter identification petition would have cost a lot of money for a problem that didn’t exist.

Checking with the Secretary of State’s Office and local election officials, he said there has “been very little or any voter fraud.” He said the voter identification card would have a bigger impact on older, poorer and minority populations.

Lichtenstein stresses that the ACLU still supports the initiative petition process if there is an appropriate description of the impact.

Angle said there were other options that could be pursued but has not decided which way she might proceed. “I’m not a quitter.”

One of the problems in gathering the signatures was the requirement of getting 25,417 signatures in each of the four congressional districts. Three of the four districts are in Clark County. And many residents did not know which district they lived it.

Backers of the petitions had to verify what district the signer lived in. “It was very difficult and burdensome,” she said.

The voter identification plan would have required a person to have a government card bearing the individual’s name, address, date of birth, photograph and signature. The person would have had to present it at the polling place to vote.

The other amendment, called the Healthcare Freedom Protection Act, would have prohibited state or local government entities from creating or maintaining a health exchange allowed by the federal health care reform law.

If the petitions had qualified, they would have had to be approved at the 2014 and the 2016 elections before becoming part of Nevada’s Constitution.

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