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Voting Rights Restoration Efforts in Nevada

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

Published: 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 Derek Paul­hus, at paul­hus­d@bren­nan.law.nyu.edu.