Nevada Court Upholds Photo ID Ballot Initiative and Strikes Down Redistricting Initiatives

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a pair of orders issued yesterday, a Nevada court determined the fate of three ballot initiatives in the Silver State. While an initiative that would create strict photo ID requirements for voters will remain on the 2024 ballot, two petitions that would have created an independent redistricting commission will not. 

A ballot initiative to create strict photo ID requirements will remain on the ballot. 

As a result of yesterday’s order, Nevada voters will determine whether the state will adopt strict photo ID requirements for in-person voting. 

This ruling comes after a voter filed a lawsuit in December 2023 alleging that the Republican-backed ballot initiative violates Nevada law because it is deceptive, misleading and does not explain the consequences of the ballot initiative to properly inform voters. 

The ballot initiative would impose photo ID requirements for in-person voting and require voters who vote by mail to include an identifying number — such as a driver’s license number or partial Social Security number — with their mail-in ballot. 

The lawsuit alleged that the ballot initiative violates the Nevada Constitution because the measure would require government spending, but does not provide how revenue would be raised. Additionally, the plaintiff argued that requiring all voters to have a photo ID could only be constitutional if Nevada were to offer free photo identification to all voters. 

Since Nevada does not currently offer free photo ID to all voters, the voter who brought the case argued that the government would have to provide identification to all Nevada voters but does not explain how this program will be funded. The new ID requirements for mail-in ballots could also require additional funding for new mail ballots and envelopes. 

The judge ultimately dismissed the plaintiffs lawsuit after finding that the ballot initiative’s language does not violate the Nevada Constitution and is “adequately summarize[d].”

In the last election cycle, Republican-backed groups lost three separate challenges to put a photo ID initiative on the ballot. The group behind this year’s anti-voting initiative,“Repair the Vote,” was unsuccessful in getting its initiative on the ballot in 2022 due to a similar pro-voting lawsuit. In addition to the failed Repair the Vote initiative, another Republican-backed group, R.I.S.E. Nevada, attempted to add a strict photo identification initiative to the ballot, but were similarly sued and ultimately withdrew the petition. 

Ballot initiatives to create an independent redistricting commission will no longer be on the ballot. 

After previously ruling from the bench, a Nevada judge has disqualified two ballot initiatives that would have created an independent redistricting commission in the state. 

The challenged ballot initiatives, proposed by Fair Maps Nevada PAC, would establish a seven-member independent redistricting commission that would draw congressional and legislative districts for future elections. The Legislature currently draws those maps.

Voters filed two lawsuits arguing that the ballot initiatives violate the Nevada Constitution because creating an independent redistricting commission would require government spending, but the initiative do not provide how funds would be raised. One lawsuit also alleged that one petition — which would have established a redistricting commission starting in 2027— did not include a statement explaining that the ballot initiative would result in mid-cycle redistricting and undo the maps drawn by the Legislature.

The judge agreed with the voters and held that because the ballot initiatives would require spending and the state would not generate revenue, they are unconstitutional. 

“The Petitions would create a new government body, the Commission, and mandate that it undertake legislative redistricting, subject to detailed procedural and  substantive requirements. Complying with these requirements will invariably require government expenditures. And the Petitions undeniably do not raise any revenue,” the judge concluded.

According to the lawsuit, a similar ballot initiative was also disqualified for the same reason in 2019 and the court re-wrote the language. Ultimately, that initiative failed to get enough signatures to be on the ballot. 

With these two orders, redistricting power will remain with the Legislature and it will be up to voters to determine if the state will adopt strict-in person photo ID rules. 

Read the order in the photo ID case here. 

Read the order in the redistricting cases here. 

Learn more about the photo ID case here.

Learn more about the redistricting cases here.