WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Friday, Oct. 20, a federal judge dismissed a right-wing lawsuit challenging Nevada’s recently enacted Election Worker Protection Law, Senate Bill 406.
Enacted in late May, in response to alarmingly high rates of threats to election officials, the Election Worker Protection Law, or Senate Bill 406, creates new offenses to protect election officials from intimidation and election interference.
Specifically, the new law makes it illegal to “use or threaten or attempt to use any force, intimidation, coercion, violence, restraint or undue influence with the intent to: (a) Interfere with the performance of the duties of any elections official relating to an election; or (b) Retaliate against any elections official for performing duties relating to an election.” Additionally, S.B. 406 prohibits the dissemination of “any personal identifying information or sensitive information of an elections official without the consent of the elections official.”
Shortly after its enactment, failed Republican attorney general candidate and Nevada Republican National Committeewoman, Sigal Chattah, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Nevada residents arguing that the new law protections for election workers are overbroad and therefore violate the First Amendment. The plaintiffs also argued that S.B. 406 violates their right to due process under the 14th Amendment and assert that they are “entitled to engage in conduct without criminal prosecution of basic First Amendment freedoms under a statute that should avoid chilling the exercise of First Amendment rights.”
In addition to Chattah’s inclination toward election denialism and subversion, the plaintiffs in this case also included Robert Beadles, a member of Washoe County’s Republican Party who is known for spreading unfounded claims of election fraud and conspiracy theories. During the 2022 midterm elections, Beadles filed a lawsuit asking for election observers to be present at “every step of the election,” including at drop boxes and voting machines. According to reporting by the Nevada Independent, Beadles “has tried to remove people from power who disagree with his worldview and boost hand-selected extremist candidates who have openly questioned the 2020 election results.”
Fortunately for Nevada voters and election workers, a federal judge declined to block the law and also dismissed the lawsuit. In the order dismissing the case, the judge found that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that they had standing to bring the case and that neither of the plaintiffs “proffered hypothetical injuries” are “concrete or imminent” enough to constitute standing.
This decision is a victory for voters as S.B. 406 is a much-needed improvement at a time where threats to election workers are at an all time high and election workers are quitting their jobs citing harassment and threats.