Critics of a proposal pushed by conservative activist Sharron Angle to require photo identification to vote in Nevada argued Wednesday that the measure fails to inform voters of possible costs and doesn’t specify the types of identification that would be necessary. Marc Elias, a Washington, D.C., attorney, told Carson City District Judge James Russell that the description of the proposed constitutional amendment on the initiative “is extremely misleading” and falls short of legal mandates. The measure supported by Angle’s political action committee, Our Vote Nevada, would require voters to have photo identification to cast a ballot. It also would require the Legislature to direct government agencies to issue free cards to anyone who does not have valid, government-issued photo identification. After losing Nevada’s 2010 U.S. Senate race to Harry Reid, Angle said she was working on a documentary film to expose nationwide voter fraud. State election officials have said there is no evidence to support the allegations.
Two lawsuits claim the initiative’s “description of effect” — a required synopsis limited to 200 words that explains what a proposal would do — is defective.
One filed by Elias and Matthew Griffin — both lawyers with ties to the Democratic Party — argued the initiative improperly seeks to “commandeer” the Legislature to enact voter ID legislation. It further claims that requiring agencies to issue free ID cards to people who don’t have one is an illegal unfunded mandate. The Nevada Constitution requires initiatives that involve expenditures to identify a funding source or a tax to pay for it.
Similar arguments are raised in the other lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, which claims the reference to “free” identification cards could be misunderstood to suggest they come with no cost to the state.