Nevada Voting Rights Challenge Revived

Three civil rights groups have won reinstatement of their lawsuit accusing Nevada of failing to adhere to a 1993 voting registration law requiring the state to offer assistance to the poor and those with disabilities.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Thursday revived the lawsuit by the National Council of La Raza and the Las Vegas and Reno chapters of the NAACP.  In addition, it ordered the case reassigned to a new judge.

The 1993 National Voter Registration Act requires states to distribute voter registration material with each application for public assistance and food stamps.

The groups contend the state’s failure to adhere to the law forced them to spend limited resources to provide registration materials available, to answer questions and assist people attempting to register.

The groups allege their own investigation showed Nevada’s voter registration applications submitted at public assistance offices dropped by 95 percent from its high in 2001 to a low in 2009, despite a four-fold increase in the number of food stamp applications during that period.

The U.S. Census showed in 2010 that only 47 percent of the poor in Nevada were registered to vote, compared with 72 percent of the wealthly state residents.

The lawsuit was dismissed at the district court, which held the groups lacked standing to sue on behalf of the poor.

The appeals court reversed saying the groups showed the alleged law violation cost them funds to fill the void created by the state in their own efforts to assist the poor.

In addition, Judge William Fletcher, writing for the unanimous panel, also ordered the case taken from U.S. District Judge Robert Jones and reassigned to a new judge.

Case: National Council of La Raza v. Cegavske, No. 13-15077


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