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May 25, 2017

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Lawmakers want voter protections included in Nevada Constitution

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Mikayla Whitmore

State Sen. Pat Spearman speaks during a panel discussion about the benefits of marijuana for veterans at the Laborers International Union, 4201 E. Bonanza Road, on Oct. 5, 2016.

CARSON CITY — A bill that would make it unconstitutional for Nevada voters from being intimidated at the polls was considered Monday by a Nevada Senate committee.

Presenting in front of the Nevada Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, Sen. Pat Spearman, D-North Las Vegas, said a bill passed into law during the 2003 Legislature should be made a permanent part of the state constitution.

“Our job is to make sure this fundamental right is not abridged by anyone at any time,” said Spearman, a 30-year veteran of the U.S. Army’s Military Police Corps. “This is about protecting our democracy and the sacred act of voting.”

Under Senate Joint Resolution 3, voters waiting in line at a polling place at the time of its closing would also have the constitutional right to still cast their vote.

Among other outlined rights given to Nevada voters in SJR3 include:

• The right to receive and cast a ballot that is written to clearly identify candidates and that accurately records the voter’s selected candidate.

• The right to have questions regarding voting procedures answered and an explanation of voting procedures posted in a visible place at polling locations.

• The right to return a “spoiled ballot” before casting it and receive a new ballot in its place.

• The right to request assistance with how to cast their vote.

• The right to have complaints about elections resolved fairly, accurately and efficiently.

Multiple speakers at Monday’s hearing proposed additional amendments for the bill.

Speaking in favor of SJR3, Todd Bailey of Nevada Accountability said elections are “far more complicated” than they were five or 10 years ago, and proposed that Nevada organizations and voters should have the right to challenge the results of an election and request a recount. Bailey also added the bill’s requirement to protect the dignity of voters should include "identifying voters at the poll."

Janine Hansen of Nevada Families for Freedom said the amendment should include language so that voters cannot be discriminated against “on the basis of religion.”

“People’s religion has prevented them from voting, and it is of great concern to me,” Hansen said.

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