Home>Articles>Defendants Lombardo, Aguilar Ask for Dismissal of Election Worker Protection Lawsuit

Gov Joe Lombardo and SOS Cisco Aguilar stand with election workers after the signing of SB406 (Photo: @CiscoAguilar)

Defendants Lombardo, Aguilar Ask for Dismissal of Election Worker Protection Lawsuit

Plaintiffs allege that SB406 imposes impossible burdens on election volunteers and violates constitutional rights

By Megan Barth, August 14, 2023 4:20 pm

Back in June, The Globe exclusively reported that four plaintiffs, represented by Attorney and Republican National Committeewoman Sigal Chattah, filed a lawsuit against Republican Governor Joe Lombardo and Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar challenging the legality of Senate Bill 406 known as the Election Worker Protection Bill. The legislation creates a new category for a criminal offense toward “undefined” election workers. The Bill was introduced by Aguilar, passed both chambers of the Nevada Legislature, and signed into law by Governor Lombardo.

SB406 is described as “An act relating to elections; making it unlawful for a person to use or threaten or attempt to use any force, intimidation, coercion, violence, restraint or undue influence with the intent to interfere with the performance of duties of an elections’ official or retaliate against an elections official for the performance of such duties.”

The plaintiffs contend that an “election official”, cited in Chapter 293 of the law, is broad, undefined and relies on “absurd” subjective complaints of threats and intimidation which would result in a Class E felony of the accused. Furthermore, they allege that the law may conflict with the current Nevada law that provides the general public, poll watchers, and volunteers to observe polling places and ballot locations, such as tabulation areas and warehouses.

The Globe has learned that the defendants have filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit and the plaintiff’s have filed a response (see below) alleging that the legislation “imposes impossible—and unpredictable—burdens on individuals that come into contact with “election officials” during elections at voting centers and ballot processing centers.”

The motion further states that:

The consequence of said sections in SB 406 is a sweeping and unwieldy regulation that leaves the identification of what an offense is so opaque, uncertain, and all-encompassing that Plaintiffs and others similarly situated cannot determine whether and when the most basic activities undertaken will subject them to drastic criminal penalties.

The claims of relief are listed as:

Violation of the First Amendment -Free Speech Clause (Overbreadth)

Second Claim for Relief: Violation of the Fourteenth Amendment- Substantive Due Process (Vagueness)

Third Claim for Relief: Violation of Nevada Constitution Article I Declaration of Rights.

Based on the claims, the plaintiffs ask the court to deny the Defendants Motion to Dismiss.

Sigal Chattah told The Globe: “I understand that some Nevadan’s believe that I am suing Governor Lombardo out of personal spite, yet nothing could be further from the truth. As the Governor is the chief executor of the laws of the state and Aguilar is the chief elections officer, they must be named as the proper government officials in this suit. My job, as an attorney, is to protect the constitutional rights of my clients. I believe that this bill violates their constitutional rights and further jeopardizes an election system that is not trusted by a large demographic of Nevadans. Additionally, the vagueness of this law could lead to subjective claims against volunteer poll workers who would be personally prosecuted and financially harmed.”

Response to Motion to Dismiss
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Megan Barth
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