Secretary of State Ross Miller's Landmark Campaign Finance Reforms Reach Governor's Desk
Bills will greatly enhance accountability and transparency in Nevada elections
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Pam duPré
(Carson City, NV; June 6, 2011) – Secretary of State Ross Miller says Nevada has entered a new era of greater accountability and transparency in election campaigns with the passage of three landmark bills. Secretary Miller had fought for many of the reforms in two previous legislative sessions, but said the legislature could no longer ignore glaring gaps in the law that were revealed by certain practices in recent election cycles.
“I’m finally satisfied that Nevada voters will have a clearer picture of who is funding political campaigns in Nevada and, as a result, will be able to make more informed decisions at the ballot box,” Secretary Miller said when the bills received final legislative approval. “For too long, information about who is spending what to influence campaigns in Nevada has been nearly hidden to the voters by archaic and ambiguous laws. At a time when record amounts of money are being spent to elect decision-makers at all levels of government, we owed it to the voters to shed more light on campaign financing practices. I applaud the legislature for making the right decision, and I’m hopeful the Governor will quickly sign these bills.”
Assembly Bills 81, 82, and 452 address a number of aspects of campaign contribution and expense reporting and other sections of election law:
Contribution and Expense Reporting
• All candidates for public office will now file contribution and expense reports electronically with the Secretary of State’s office. Electronic filing centralized in one office allows creation of a database that can be searched by candidate, contributor, dollar amounts, and other data.
• All campaign contribution and expense reports will be filed at least four days before the start of early voting in primary and general elections, rather than just before election day when a majority of voters have already cast their ballots.
Political Action Committees & other expenditures
• All PACS, parties, committees, and individuals who spend more than $100 on a public communication such as a radio or TV ad, billboard, or mass mailing must identify in the communication who paid for it.
• All PACs, parties, committees and individuals who spend more than $100 to influence the outcome of a Nevada election must register with the Secretary of State and file annual contribution and expense reports.
• If a PAC fails to register with the Secretary of State prior to engaging in political activity in the state, the Secretary of State may impose a civil penalty for each separate ad or activity.
• Individuals are prohibited from contributing to a PAC with the knowledge and intent that the PAC will contribute that money to a specific candidate if the contribution puts the individual over the authorized limits on contributions to a single candidate.
• A foreign national may not make contributions to Nevada campaigns, and soliciting, accepting, or receiving any campaign contributions from foreign nationals will be illegal under state law, as well as federal law.
• During the period in which making and accepting contributions of $5000 or more to state legislators, the Lieutenant Governor, and Governor are prohibited, the acts of making a commitment to contribute to a campaign or soliciting a future contribution will also be prohibited.
• Expanding online voter registration to all counties will be conducted in such a way to ensure security and consistency across the state.
• A voter registration agency may not knowingly employ a person to register voters if the person has been convicted of a felony involving theft or fraud.
• A county clerk or registrar may not knowingly appoint a person as a field registrar if the person has been convicted of a felony involving theft or fraud.
• Threatening a person or using intimidation in connection with the registration of voters could constitute a category E felony crime.
• Individual minor party candidates can be placed on the ballot only if the party obtains ballot access as already required by law.
• Acts of tampering or interfering with or attempting to tamper or interfere with a mechanical voting system or computer program used to count ballots is punishable as a category B felony.
• Requirements to register as a Ballot Advocacy Group (BAG) to support or oppose a ballot question are deleted from statute; individuals and organizations must register as a PAC to engage in political activity to support or oppose a ballot question.
• The reporting threshold for such groups is lowered from $10,000 in contributions and/or expenditures to $1,000 during any reporting period.
• State holidays are not excluded from the early voting period.
• An October, 2009 regulation prohibiting county clerks and registrars from releasing results of statewide and multi-county races until the Secretary of State determines that all polling places are closed and all votes have been cast is codified.