Judge rejects lawsuit against open primary ballot question

January 8, 2022 GMT

CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) — A Carson City judge on Thursday rejected a challenge to a political action committee’s efforts to bring open primaries and ranked-choice voting in general elections to Nevada.

District Court Judge James Wilson rejected a lawsuit filed by Democratic Party-aligned attorneys on behalf of former Democratic Party staffer Nathan Helton, whose complaint attempts to block a ballot initiative that would ask voters to approve open primaries and rank-choice voting.

“The initiative’s description satisfies Nevada’s requirements as its plain language is straightforward, succinct, and non-argumentative,” Wilson ruled.

Initiative backers propose changing Nevada’s closed primaries, in which only members of political parties can vote to advance candidates to general elections, to open primaries.

Under their proposal, the top five vote-getters regardless of party would advance from the open primaries to general elections, where votes would be tabulated using “ranked choice” methodology, in which voters would rank candidates in order of preference.

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If none win 50%, the bottom finisher would be eliminated and their share reallocated to voters’ second choice until a candidate achieves a majority.

Bradley Schrager, the attorney fighting the proposal, also consulted with legislative Democrats on redrawing the state’s political maps and launched legal challenges to a different ballot initiative that proposed an independent commission conduct redistricting.