Ballot questions appear headed for passage, with one possible exception

Voting inside Desert Breeze Community Center (Photo:: Jeniffer Solis).

Victories for measures on same-sex marriages, pardons, renewable energy and voter rights look secured in partial election results Wednesday morning.

Only one measure appeared at risk of failing. Question 1, also known as “The Nevada Higher Education Reform, Accountability and Oversight Amendment,” asked voters to approve removing the Board of Regents from the Nevada constitution entirely and requires the Nevada Legislature to pass laws concerning the “governance, control, and management” of the state’s higher education system. 

As of early Wednesday morning’s vote count, 51.5 percent of voters had rejected the ballot and 48.5 percent approved.

Proponents of Question 1 say the change is necessary because the status quo is that the Board of Regents act as “a fourth branch of government,” immune to oversight and accountability by the Nevada Legislature. They argue that no other similar board receives a constitutional carve-out and that the appearance of the Board of Regents in the document is an antiquated relic in need of updating.

Opponents of Question 1 see the effort as the Legislature’s first step toward changing the Board of Regents from a 13-member board elected directly by voters to an appointed or hybrid board.

Election officials have emphasized that results in Nevada could take several days.

Marriage equality is headed for a decisive victory in Nevada via Question 2. The ballot measure would enshrine same-sex marriage in the Nevada constitution by removing language that prohibits same-sex marriage. Nevada would be the first state in the U.S. to remove such language after the 2015 Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage and would provide protections for Nevadans if Obergefell v Hodges were ever overturned.

As of Wednesday morning the measure had been approved by about 62 percent of voters.

The ballot measure removes the phrase “only a marriage between a male and female person shall be recognized and given effect in this state,” replacing it with new language stating that Nevada “shall recognize marriages and issue marriage licenses to couples regardless of gender” and “all legal valid marriages must be treated equally under the law.”

A ban on same-sex marriages was originally voted into the state constitution in the 2000 and 2002 general elections, by 69 percent and 67 percent respectively.

There was no formal opposition to the largely symbolic measure. 

Another ballot measure on the way to victory would make the pardon process in Nevada easier. In part, it removes the requirement that the governor must agree with the majority of the pardon board which has the power to reduce sentences and grant pardons for convicted criminals — often an obstacle to clemency. The board will also be required to meet at least quarterly, allowing board members to bring up items for consideration, and have clemency decisions made by a majority vote. Infrequent meetings have contributed to a triple digit backlog in applications.

The ballot, Question 3, had about 60 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning. 

The Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice supported the ballot initiative. There is no listed opposition for the measure.

Voting rights will be strengthened if Question 4, approved by about 63 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning, continues it’s lead.

The ballot measure guarantees that specific voting rights would be added to the state constitution, including the right to vote on Election Day or during early voting, and equal access to elections without discrimination, intimidation or coercion. It also guarantees voters can have their ballots recorded accurately based on a uniform, statewide standard, among other rights.

The provisions exist in state law now, but Question 4 enshrines those rights in the state constitution. 

The 2020 ballot question is supported by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and state Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro, both Democrats from Clark County. The ballot question has no formal opponents.

Voters in Nevada also seem on the path to approving more clean energy for the state. Question 6, also known as the Renewable Energy Promotion Initiative, requires every provider of electric service in Nevada to generate or acquire at least half its power from renewable sources by 2030. 

The measure was approved by 56 percent of voters as of Wednesday morning. 

The measure first appeared on the 2018 ballot and was overwhelmingly approved by voters with nearly 60 percent of the vote. However, the measure is an amendment to the Nevada Constitution, meaning it must be approved by voters twice. There was no formal opposition to the measure. 

Jeniffer Solis
Reporter | Jeniffer was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where she attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas before graduating in 2017 with a B.A in Journalism and Media Studies. While at UNLV she was a senior staff writer for the student newspaper, the UNLV Scarlet and Gray Free Press, and a news reporter for KUNV 91.5 FM, covering everything from the Route 91 shooting to UNLV housing. She has also contributed to the UNLV News Center and worked as a production engineer for several KUNV broadcasts before joining the Nevada Current. She’s an Aries.