Nevada Republicans Challenge Law Protecting Election Officials From Harassment

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, June 29, Sigal Chattah — a prominent Nevada Republican with “significant ties” to the conspiracy to overturn the results of the 2020 election — filed a lawsuit on behalf of four Nevadans challenging the state’s recently enacted law designed to protect election officials from intimidation, harassment and election interference. 

Enacted in late May, in response to  alarmingly high rates of threats to election officials, Election Worker Protection Law, or Senate Bill 406, creates new offenses to protect election officials from intimidation and election interference.

The new law states that it is illegal for anyone 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.”

The lawsuit challenging the Election Worker Protection Law argues that S.B. 406’s protections for election workers are overbroad and therefore violate the First Amendment. The plaintiffs also argue 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.” 

Additionally, the lawsuit argues that the S.B. 406’s “arbitrary inclusion of the terms ‘intimidation’ and ‘undue influence’ interferes with Plaintiffs’ rights and liberties” under the Nevada Constitution. Finally, the plaintiffs allege that the term “election official” is “so opaque and uncertain, that Plaintiffs and others similarly situat[ed] cannot determine who an election official is and who is protected under SB 406.” The plaintiffs request that the defendants be prohibited from enforcing S.B. 406. 

Chattah’s attempts to upend Nevada elections do not stop here. Recently, Chattah, who ran for Nevada attorney general in 2022, filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Nevada Republican Party challenging Nevada’s presidential primary system in a clear attempt to subvert the will of voters ahead of the 2024 elections. 

In addition to Chattah’s proclivity toward election denialism and subversion, the plaintiffs in this case also include 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.” 

Importantly, the lawsuit filed today comes at a time when threats to election officials are at an all time high. According to the Brennan Center for Justice’s most recent survey of local election officials, 30% of respondents indicated that they have personally been harassed or threatened because of their job. One in five plan to likely leave the job before 2024. 

Despite this devastating reality, right-wing individuals, including prominent Republicans, continue to take extraordinary measures to target election officials. In this case, Republicans are attempting to strike down a law aimed at preventing the very real threats that their rhetoric and continuous misinformation has exacerbated. 

Read the complaint here.

Learn more about the case here.