Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Nevada

A summary of current felony disenfranchisement policies and legislative advocacy in Nevada.

May 30, 2019

On May 29, 2019, Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law Assembly Bill 431. Effective July 1, 2019, the law will restore voting rights to Nevadans who have been released from prison.

Recent Developments

On May 29, 2019, Governor Steve Sisolak signed into law Assembly Bill 431, a law that will restore voting rights to thousands of Nevadans with criminal convictions in their past upon release from prison. Effective on July 1, 2019, Nevada’s law now provides for the automatic restoration of voting rights upon release and eliminates the requirement that individuals with certain convictions wait two years for the restoration of their rights.

A broad group of criminal justice professionals and civic organizations submitted both oral and written public testimony in support of the bill, including: Battle Born Progress, Silver State Voices (member of the Let Nevadans Vote coalition), Faith Organizing Alliance, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, Make it Work Nevada, Washoo County Public Defenders Office, Clark County Public Defenders Office, Southern Nevada Building Trade Unions, Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Fair Elections Center, Committee for Family and Criminal Law Reform, and the Mass Liberation Project.

A.B. 431’s sponsor, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, has been a longtime advocate for rights restoration in Nevada. In 2017, he sponsored AB 181, which eliminated some barriers to voting for those with criminal convictions in their past. With the passage of A.B. 431, individuals will have their rights restored automatically upon release. 

Past Developments

On June 4, 2017, Governor Brian Sandoval signed into law Assembly Bill 181, a law that restored rights to thousands of Nevadans with past convictions who previously were permanently disenfranchised. Effective January 1, 2019, Nevada’s law no longer permanently disenfranchised citizens solely because they received a “dishonorable discharge” from probation or parole, and persons with certain convictions classified as “category B” had their rights restored two years after completion of sentence.

A broad group of criminal justice professionals and civic organizations testified in support of the bill, including the: Nevada District Attorneys Association, Washoe County Public Defender, Clark County Public Defender, ACLU of Nevada, League of Women Voters of Nevada, Episcopal Diocese of Nevada, Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice, Libertarian Party of Nevada, and Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. The Guinn Center for Policy Priorities published an op-ed calling on the governor to support the bill.

The 2017 law came six years after Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a more expansive voting rights restoration bill. A.B. 181’s sponsor, Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, stated that his bill was an attempt to address the governor’s concerns about that earlier legislation. 

For more information about the Brennan Center’s work on Restoring Voting Rights in Nevada, please contact Rebecca Ayala, at ayalar@brennan.law.nyu.edu