Nevada Democrats are asking a federal court to block recall efforts targeting three state senators before a special election can be scheduled.
The request for a preliminary injunction was filed late Monday in a Las Vegas federal court by Marc Elias, a prominent national attorney who served as Hillary Clinton’s general counsel during the 2016 election, and Bradley Schrager, the former attorney for the Nevada State Democratic Party.
The filing — which largely echoes language in the first lawsuit filed by Elias and Nevada Democrats in mid-October against state election officials — requests that the court sets an expedited schedule with time for hearing and ruling on granting the injunction before Nov. 30 — before a recall special election could be held.
The request argues that holding the recall elections under the present set of circumstances, the use of Nevada’s recall law against the senators would “burden, abridge, and deny the fundamental right to vote” for voters in the three state Senate districts.
Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske confirmed last Friday that her office had received an adequate number of signatures to qualify the petition aimed at recalling Democratic Sen. Joyce Woodhouse. Signatures on recall petitions targeting Independent Sen. Patricia Farley and Democratic Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro are due on Thursday and Nov. 14, respectively.
The recalls were filed in mid August against the senators, a Republican-backed effort ahead of a 2018 midterm election with few opportunities for the party to retake control of the state Senate ahead of the 2019 legislative session. Prompting a recall election requires organizers to gather the signatures of at least 25 percent of individuals who voted in the district from the election the targeted lawmaker won.
The request for an injunction follows along the same lines as the initial lawsuit filed last month on behalf of plaintiffs Nora Luna, Bilal Shabazz, Diane Crump-Richmond, Susan Florian and Demi Falcon — all of whom live in the district and argued that holding a special recall election would force them to miss work or school.
The complaint lists several examples of how holding an “off-cycle, special election under ad hoc rules and a condensed timeframe” would unduly burden voters and make voting more difficult for demographic groups with historically low patterns of turnout.
“Thus, minority voters are more likely than their white counterparts to have their votes nullified by recall elections and more likely to be forced to bear the undue burden of having to vote again in a recall election to ensure that their Senators serve full terms,” it states.
The injunction also claims that the recalls would violate the federal Voting Rights Acts, and cites a wide variety of discriminatory societal and demographic factors from housing policy to education access for minorities that would come into play in a recall election.
“These social and economic disparities, individually and cumulatively, make it harder for minorities to overcome barriers to voting, particularly heightened barriers associated with voting (again) in a special, off-cycle recall election,” it states.