Las Vegas Sun

January 16, 2018

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Nevada voters reject judicial ballot measures

Nevadans made it clear Tuesday they still want to decide which judges sit on the bench in district courthouses and the state Supreme Court.

A ballot measure to appoint judges went down to defeat Tuesday, along with a measure that would have created an appeals court to help ease the Nevada Supreme Court's bulging caseload.

The other two statewide measures on the ballot also lost, one involving potential Internet sales taxes and another that proposed obscure changes in revisions made last year to state law regarding eminent domain.

Question 1 would have let the governor make state judicial appointments from a trio of nominees offered by a bipartisan selection panel instead of having judges initially seek election in nonpartisan elections as they do now.

With two-thirds of precincts reporting early Wednesday, the measure was losing 58 percent to 42 percent.

That leaves Nevada as one of 22 states that choose judges in elections. Twenty-eight others use some form of merit selection.

Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was among those who supported the change as a way to reduce the role campaign contributions play in selecting district judges and supreme court justices.

Opponents said the measure assumed Nevada's voters are uninformed and that a select group of individuals were better qualified to make the choice.

Incumbent Supreme Court Justices James Hardesty and Ron Parraguirre both ran unopposed and easily won re-election. But in each race, about a fifth of the vote _ more than 140,000 voters each _ cast their ballots using Nevada's unique "none of these candidates" option.

Under Question 1, the three judicial nominees would have been vetted by the Commission on Judicial Selection. The same panel has been making such recommendations for midterm vacancies since 1976. Appointed judges would have to draw 55 percent support in retention elections to remain.

Question 2 asked Nevadans to create an appellate court for cases between district courts and the state Supreme Court _ an idea voters also rejected in 1980 and 1992.

Nevada is one of only 11 states without such a court. Now all appeals go to the state high court, which handles the second highest caseload in the nation per justice at 320 per year, trailing only West Virginia.

The question was losing 53 percent to 47 percent with 66 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday.

Question 3, which was losing 68 percent to 32 percent, was aimed at speeding potential collections of taxes from sales on the Internet. Voters rejected a similar ballot measure in 2008.

Question 4, proposing changes in state compensation to property owners in cases of eminent domain, was losing 67 percent to 33 percent.

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