CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) Some veteran public officials seeking re-election have been blocked from serving new terms because the state Supreme Court has upheld term limits in a ruling delivered just one day before the start of Nevada's early voting.
A pair of rulings Friday mean no votes can be counted for 21 incumbents in local or state government service who have hit a voter-mandated limit of 12 years of service.
They include Clark County Commissioner Bruce Woodbury, a 27-year fixture on the powerful commission who already has spent more than $200,000 in his bid for another term. Others affected include two state university system regents, and several school and town board members around Nevada.
Since ballots were already printed for the start of early voting on Saturday, no changes in listed candidates could be made.
"The ballots are all going to contain these names," Clark County Registrar Larry Lomax said. "What we're going to have to do is post signs at all the polling places explaining which candidates are out."
The high court said the Nevada Constitution "plainly states" that officials can't serve more than 12 years, under terms of the term limits approved by voters in 1996.
However, 13 longtime state legislators escaped the immediate effect of the ruling. The voter mandate took effect a few weeks after the November 1996 elections, when a final vote canvass made the results official. State legislators elected that year took office the day after the election, and the Supreme Court said in a separate ruling that the mandate can't apply retroactively to them.
However, this will be the last re-election race for those 13 lawmakers.
One of the 13, Assembly Speaker Barbara Buckley, D-Las Vegas, said they had anticipated a ruling in their favor for this election. She said a ruling against them "would have been nothing short of chaotic at best" given the many fiscal problems the state now faces.
Attorney Bradley Schrager, representing Woodbury and several other term-limited officials, said he disagreed with the high court's conclusions but didn't know yet whether a rehearing would be sought.
The court rejected arguments that the limits were invalid because the 1996 ballot question was different than a 1994 version, which had included judges. Constitutional amendments have to be approved in two consecutive general elections in Nevada.
In the 1996 elections, the term-limits question was split into two proposals, one applying to judges and the other applying to locazl and state officials. The one on judges was rejected.
In Nevada, about half of all voters cast their ballots early. Nevada's primary election is scheduled for Aug. 12.