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Laws governing the initiative process in Nevada (archive)

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Citizens of Nevada can use the initiative process to:

Approveda Propose an initiated constitutional amendment.
If the petition is sufficient, the amendment is placed on the next general election ballot. Nevada is the only I&R state to require voters to approve a proposed amendment twice, requiring voter approval in two successive elections before the amendment becomes law.[1] The language, description, arguments, and question number must be the same on both ballots. If the question passes the second time, it becomes part of the Nevada Constitution upon certification of the election results. If the question fails to pass a second time, no further action is taken.

Approveda Propose an indirect initiated state statute.
Citizens petition to propose a new law or a change to an existing state law. If the petition is sufficient, the Nevada Secretary of State transmits the petition to the next regular session of the legislature when it convenes. The petition must be enacted or rejected by the legislature without change within 40 days.

  • If the petition is enacted by the legislature and approved by the Governor, it becomes law.
  • If the legislature does not act upon or rejects the petition within 40 days, the Secretary of State shall place the measure on next general election ballot for the voters to decide.
  • If the Legislature rejects a petition and proposes a different measure on the same subject, which the Governor approves, the measure proposed by the Legislature and approved by the Governor must also be listed on the ballot along with the original statutory intitative. If both the initiative and the legislative substitute are approved by the voters, the one receiving the highest number of affirmative votes becomes law.

Approveda Nullify a law enacted by the Nevada State Legislature through the veto referendum process.

Approveda Affirm a state law through the statute affirmation process, which is unique to Nevada.
If the petition is sufficient, the state law at issue will be submitted to voters on the next general election ballot. If the state law is disapproved, it becomes void. If the state law is approved—unlike with traditional veto referendum where the state law would simply remain in force—Nevada law, unique among the I & R states, provides that the law shall not be amended, annulled, repealed, set aside, suspended, or in any way made inoperative except by the direct vote of the people.[2]

Features of the law

Filing requirements

Prior to circulating a petition for signatures, a copy of the petition and a short description (200 words or less) must be filed with the Nevada Secretary of State. The Secretary of State reviews the petition for acceptable format, but does not review or approve the language contained on the petition. Proponents are advised to seek their own legal advice regarding the measure’s language and content. Opponents of the measure can file court challenges if they feel the measure's language has legal problems.

When the measure qualifies for the ballot, the Secretary of State writes the Ballot Summary and Ballot Question; and the Attorney General reviews and comments on both. While writing them, the Secretary of State holds public gatherings to obtain input from proponents, opponents and the general public. There is no official process for challenging the Secretary of State’s Title and Summary, other then challenging them in court.

Single-subject rule

Nevada has a single-subject rule, which requires that an initiative deal with "only a single subject and matters necessarily connected therewith and pertaining thereto."[3] This rule applies to all county and municipal initiatives as well.

Appropriations of money

The Nevada Constitution does not permit the proposal of any statute or statutory amendment which makes an appropriation or otherwise requires the expenditure of money, unless the statute or amendment also imposes a sufficient tax not prohibited by the constitution or otherwise constitutionally provides for raising the necessary revenue.


  • The deadline for an initiated constitutional amendment is the first day the Secretary of State will accept filings for constitutional amendments is September 1st of the year prior to the year the measure is to appear on the general election ballot. Petition signatures must be filed for verification with each County Clerk/Registrar no later than 90 days prior to the next general election. All petitions for the measure must be submitted on the same day.
  • The deadline for a statutory initiative is the first day the Secretary of State will accept filings for statutory initiatives is January 1 of the year prior to next regular session of the legislature. Petition signatures must be filed for verification with each County Clerk/Registrar no later than 30 days prior to next regular session of the legislature. All petitions for the measure must be submitted on the same day.
  • The deadline for a veto referendum is the first day the Secretary of State will accept filings for veto referenda for is August 1. Petition signatures must be filed for verification with each County Clerk/Registrar no later than 120 days prior to the next general election. All petitions for the measure must be submitted on the same day.
  • Statute affirmation follows the same process as a veto referendum, but proponents are seeking a "yes" vote rather than the "no" vote sought by proponents of a traditional veto referendum.

Signature requirements

See also: Nevada signature requirements

Proponents must collect signatures equal to 10% of the total votes cast in last general election. Nevada does not require a higher percentage for constitutional amendments than it requires for statutory initiatives, veto referendums, or statute affirmations.

Year Amendment Statute Veto referendum Statute affirmation
2014 101,666 101,666 101,666 101,666
2012 72,352 72,352 72,352 72,352
2010 97,002 97,002 97,002 97,002
2008 58,627 58,627 58,627 58,627

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Sections 2 & 3


People circulating petitions in Nevada are not required to be Nevada residents or registered voters.

Distribution requirement

See also: Distribution requirement

Nevada has been struggling for years over its distribution requirement. In ACLU v. Lomax in 2006, the "thirteen counties rule" was invalidated by the Ninth Circuit.

In 2007, the Nevada State Legislature passed a new distribution requirement in Nevada Senate Bill 549, which according to the ACLU was "virtually identical" to the law struck down in ACLU v. Lomax. On September 28, 2008, U.S. District Court Judge Philip Pro invalidated Nevada Senate Bill 549 (2007), saying it is unconstitutional. Judge Pro ordered Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller not to enforce the law.[4][5]

In 2009, the legislature passed another distribution requirement. The new requirement is that circulators must collect the signatures of 10 percent of the turnout in the most recent election in each of the state's Congressional districts plus 18 signatures in Clark County. This makes the overall number of signatures required to qualify an initiative for the ballot 60% higher.[6]

Signature verification

Nevada uses a random sampling system for verification. If more than 500 signatures have been submitted, the County Clerk/Registrar will randomly sample 500 or five percent of the signatures, whichever is greater.

Campaign finance

Main Article: Campaign finance requirements for Nevada ballot measures

The features of Nevada's campaign finance laws include

  • Groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure are treated differently than Political Action Committees.
  • Groups must report money spent towards paid signature circulators.
  • Groups must have an official representative designated when conducting business with the Nevada Secretary of State.
  • Groups must report any person who has contributed $1,000 or more during the campaign to the Nevada Secretary of State.

Proposed changes


Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

Bills that have or might be introduced in the 2011 session of the Nevada State Legislature include:


Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

There were no proposals made in 2010 by members of the Nevada Legislature[7].

Legislative tampering

Main article: Legislative tampering

The Nevada State Legislature can only repeal or amend initiated state statutes three years after they have been enacted.

See also

External links