One person not associated with any special interest group, dedicated to the idea of election reform, willing to expend the time and effort to get something done rather than waiting for someone else to act equals Nevada State Senate Bill #499.
Back up to September 2013. Nevada has closed partisan primary elections for county, state, and federal elections. No group working election reform in the state had a legislative plan or agenda. I decided, bottom line, if anything was going to happen in Nevada, I had to do it.
In Nevada, a citizen’s ballot initiative, once the petition is approved, can be a three-year process. Once the required signatures are gathered and verified, it must go before the next session of the Legislature. However, the Nevada Legislature meets every two years (on an odd year) for 120 days. Then, the initiative must go before voters in the next election (on an even year).
In May 2014, I outlined the concept I was presenting to Nevada lawmakers, the Nevada Election Modernization and Reform Act (NEMRA), in an article on IVN titled, New Type of Nonpartisan Election Reform Proposed in Nevada. I began posting voter turnout and registration figures along with other studies and information on a blog and on Twitter. I continued meeting with legislators and interest groups.
Fast forward to February 2, 2015. The 2015 session of the Nevada Legislature convenes. I am now a registered lobbyist. Over twelve hundred Bill Draft Requests (BDR) were submitted by legislators, committees, state constitutional officers, and agencies authorized to submit BDRs. Of those, 1,045 were introduced as bills or resolutions. Of course, most of these will not become law.
On February 16, 2015, the final day for BDR submissions, the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee filed a BDR for NEMRA. On March 23, 2015, the deadline for BDR’s to be introduced as bills, a modified version of NEMRA, SB #499, was introduced and referred to committee for a hearing. The bill had a hearing on April 1, 2015. Political reality set in, and on April 8, 2015, SB #499 was amended for another purpose.
Was this an unhappy ending? Not even close. For a private citizen with virtually no connections to have a radical proposal considered, filed, introduced, and receive a hearing is highly unusual. For this to happen on the first try is even rarer.
I wear glasses. I often pointed out to legislators that they were not rose-colored.
The current session of the Legislature ends on June 1, 2015. By then, I will have already started planning the future of NEMRA before the 2017 session — hopefully with an even better ending. One person can make a difference; 1 does equal 499.