Federal judge dismisses lawsuit challenging election worker protection bill
A federal district court judge on Friday dismissed a lawsuit filed by Sigal Chattah, a prominent Republican attorney and Nevada Republican national committeewoman, seeking to block SB406, a bill passed by the Legislature earlier this year that increased criminal penalties for harassing election workers.
Judge Cristina Silva wrote that the plaintiffs — who include former poll observers from Clark and Washoe counties and far-right GOP donor and activist Robert Beadles — failed to demonstrate sufficient evidence that they would personally face a real threat of prosecution under the new law.
“Plaintiffs at no point allege that they intend or plan to engage in behavior for the purpose of intimidating or coercing poll workers,” Silva wrote.
Silva dismissed the case without prejudice, meaning that the plaintiffs have an opportunity to bring the case forward again with an amended complaint. Chattah said Tuesday she is planning to file an amended complaint, but declined to comment further.
Silva granted a motion to dismiss the case from defendants Gov. Joe Lombardo, who signed the bill into law, and Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar, who pursued the legislation after making it a campaign priority to increase protections for election workers. Since the 2020 election, poll workers and election administrators across the country and in Nevada have faced increasing harassment, causing many to quit their jobs.
SB406 made it a felony offense to threaten, intimidate or coerce an election worker with the intent to interfere with their performance in carrying out an election or to retaliate against them for performing their duties.
Silva also refuted Chattah’s argument that the bill would have a chilling effect on the plaintiffs, who had argued the law would conflict with their ability to observe election operations and that it “may impact” their decision to engage as poll workers or observers in 2024. Silva wrote that the plaintiffs did not “actually allege that even a single one of them definitively will not participate in future elections.”
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