State: Recalls targeting Democratic state senators don't have enough signatures to qualify for ballot
Nevada election officials say that signatures for the two recall campaigns targeting Democratic state senators have failed to trigger a special election, though an appeal is possible.
According to correspondence sent to District Court Judge Jerry Wiese, the secretary of state and Clark County registrar of voters have determined that signatures submitted to recall state Sens. Joyce Woodhouse and Nicole Cannizzaro do not meet the threshold necessary to trigger a special election.
The full review also indicates that even if a higher court reverses Wiese’s earlier decision to count a batch of signature removal requests turned in after the recall petition was submitted, the number of valid signatures would still be too low to qualify for a special recall election.
In a letter dated April 5, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske wrote that backers of the recall targeting Woodhouse had turned in 14,216 valid signatures, including requests for signature-removal turned in before the recall petition was due. That number falls 196 short of the 14,412 signatures needed to trigger a special election — and doesn’t take into account the 1,388 so called post submission revocation signatures turned in after the recall petition was submitted.
Similarly, the petition to recall Cannizzaro had, after a full review, 14,469 valid signatures, or 506 short of the needed 14,975 to trigger the recall. Opponents of the recall effort also determined that the tally should be decreased by another 1,373 signatures to reflect the valid post-submission signature removal requests.
Nevada law requires recall efforts to obtain the signatures of 25 percent of the voters who cast a ballot in the last election of the targeted office-holder within 90 days. Signatures are then reviewed and processed by state and local election officials, who prune invalid signatures to determine whether the gathered signatures meet the minimum threshold.
In a statement, the Nevada State Senate Democratic Caucus celebrated the filing as evidence that the “recalls have failed.”
“We are grateful that this sad chapter of our state's political history has come to an end,” the caucus wrote in a statement. “We regret the GOP chose to put everyone through this, but it will strengthen our resolve to win statewide this coming November.”
In a joint statement, Woodhouse and Cannizzaro said they looked forward to returning to the Legislature in 2019 and were glad to have defeated the “baseless” recall campaigns.
“These recalls were an attempt at a desperate power grab by self-serving politicians who lost at the ballot box in the 2016 election,” they wrote. “As justice prevails, those who try to undermine our democratic process have been dealt a devastating blow.”
Last month, Wiese upheld the constitutionality of a state law allowing hundreds of so-called post submission revocations — requests from people who signed the recall petition to remove their name after it had already been submitted — to be included in the signature verification process.
But Wiese also said at the time he couldn’t rule on whether the recalls qualified because of “numerical inconsistencies” between signature numbers submitted by the secretary of state and Clark County registrar, and ordered them to complete the verification process ahead of an April 18 court date.
Backers of the recalls have previously hinted that they plan to appeal the case to the state’s Supreme Court.
Supporters of the recall efforts have largely stayed out of the limelight, though the Republican State Leadership Committee — a national group supporting Republicans in down-ticket races — has bankrolled the effort. Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison in his private capacity as an attorney has argued on behalf of the recall committees in court, and State Senate Minority Leader Michael Roberson has been a vocal supporter of the efforts.
Updated at 11:47 a.m. to include a statement from Senators Joyce Woodhouse and Nicole Cannizzaro.