OPINION: The Top-Down Take Over of Nevada Elections
A series of unconstitutional bills are moving fast through this runaway Legislature
By Oscar Dey Williams, April 17, 2023 7:58 am
Let me cut to the chase.
Members of the Nevada Legislature and Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar will usurp your voter rights, the rights of counties in the conduct of elections, and the governor’s emergency powers over elections too…if they can. Nevada’s 82nd Legislature is in session with a slew of new bills that, if made into law, will degrade fair and transparent elections, accountability of election officials, will turn the Secretary of State into a kingmaker, and impose threats and sanctions on those who dare to question results or deviate from the prescribed plan as dictated by the Secretary of State.
The Nevada Constitution Article 4 Section 20 states: The legislature shall not pass local or special laws in any of the following enumerated cases—that is to say:
- Regulating the election of county and township officers;
- Providing for opening and conducting elections of state, county, or township officers, and designating the places of voting;
State Senator James Ohrenschall has sponsored SB327. The legislation imposes state will over sovereign Indians. The bill changes an Indian reservation’s or colony’s opt-in to polling locations and drop boxes for early voting and election-day voting, to opt-out.
AB286/SB162 imposes state will over jails and detention and rehabilitation centers: AB286 is a relabeled SB162, which failed but which has been reintroduced in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee, and allows electronic voter registration and voting in prison and juvenile detention centers. Related costs are high and security is very questionable. It’s not a jailor’s job to conduct elections and report results as required by this bill. Yes, two bills that cover the same topic in two committees.
SB54 imposes state will over county election procedures and equipment used via guidance in the Elections Manual, not subject to normal oversight and gives the Secretary of State unprecedented power over counties and local elections via bureaucratic dictates without proper oversight or accountability.
SB404 was amended on April 14, 2023. These amendments have taken the bite out of this piece of legislation that would have given the Secretary of State equal to or greater power than the governor over elections in an emergency and that trampled over a county’s rights and a voter’s rights. The bill now establishes a reply to voter challenges by affirmation or “satisfactory” documentation; and, enables early counting of ballots “no later than the first day of early voting.”
The Nevada Constitution has no provision for early vote counting, though it is a practice widely believed to lead to unscrupulous use of real-time results. Furthermore, the justification that counties benefit from more time to count ballots is without proof. Counties do not need over three weeks from start of early voting to receipt of post-election mail-in ballots to fully count ballots. The law has historically been and should remain that counting mail ballots begins on election day, ballots cast on election day are counted after polls close, and no ballots are accepted after polls close.
The issue of voter ID and challenges is expanded in a sister piece of legislation, SB443 (amended on April 14, 2023). “If a voter does not have a driver’s license, identification card, or Social Security number, they may sign an affirmation, swearing they have not been issued such identification. The county clerk will then issue a unique identification number to the voter before the voter casts their ballot,” the bill reads. IDs from other states are acceptable as are electronic documents.
The Nevada Constitution Article 2 Section 1A, the Voter’s Bill of Rights, states voters have a right to a uniform, statewide standard for counting and recounting all votes accurately as provided by law.
In AB242, tangible versus intangible ballots is a dual standard. This bill enshrines a gross violation of the mandate for a statewide standard of counting and recounting ballots that has been occurring since Washoe County adopted no paper at the polls in 2020, and gives the Secretary of State unfettered authority to dictate what systems and software local jurisdictions must use to conduct elections–a direct violation of county rights per Nev. Const. Art 4 Sec. 20. AB242 also abolishes paper ballots cast inside a polling location.
This bill does nothing to regulate, test, and certify the many non-certified types of equipment and software used in our elections; offers no alternatives to the equipment and software prescribed by the Secretary of State when a multitude of options are available that don’t rely on hidden code and NDA agreements; and, most important, this bill is discriminatory to certain minorities and ethnic groups–the elderly, sick, poor, and illiterate who don’t use technology.
Some of the election software preferred by the Secretary of State is proven to have vulnerabilities, bugs, administrative loopholes, and uncertified software embedded into the system, such as Microsoft SQL. When coupled with NDA agreements and some laws that hide system security or vulnerability issues, this bill hurts any attempt by the public or candidates to hold election officials accountable when things go wrong—and things do go wrong as evidence shows. This bill will destroy whatever voter confidence is left.
AB394 affords county commissioners no option but to rubber-stamp election results, ties their hands on a delay of certification of the canvass of the vote, can’t investigate anything, and prohibits recounting—all via Secretary of State regulation. This bill violates Nev. Const. Art 4 Sec. 20 county rights, and negates Voter’s Bill of Rights Nev. Const. Art. 2 Sec. 1A § 11: “To have complaints about elections and election contests resolved fairly, accurately and efficiently as provided by law.”
The U.S. Constitution established The Electoral College in Article II, Section 1, Clause 2, modified by the 12th and 23rd Amendments.
AJR6, also sponsored by Sen. Orenschall neuters The Electoral College, putting it under the authority of the SOS, and forcing it to adopt the National Popular Vote. As that name implies, The Electoral College will be forced to be a rubber stamp for the popular vote, thus enabling the Secretary of State to determine the true vote cast that elects the President and Vice President.
This bill is a holdover from the 81st legislative session where it was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Sisolak.
Sisolak wrote in a letter to the speaker of the Nevada Assembly that the bill would allow the state’s electors to “disregard the will of the state’s electorate” if a candidate won the national vote but lost in Nevada. He also said that joining the compact “could leave a sparsely populated Western state like Nevada with a greatly diminished voice in the outcome of national electoral contests.
Assaults on the electoral college are nothing new. AJR6 is a state runaround to federal laws against pooling votes, which is what the ‘National Popular Vote Compact’ ultimately does. In pooling, the largest metropolitan areas will dominate the rest of the nation in population and the vote becomes one of mob rule, disenfranchising all other voters and those who don’t live in a democrat run hell scape.
The bill is unconstitutional because it intends to supplant the separation of states with a combine in pursuit of a not-so-hidden federal agenda to control elections in each state, including Nevada. The electoral college is a brilliant scheme that must be preserved at all costs.
If the status quo on the electoral college is not protected, former governor Sisolak is right and would leave a sparsely populated Western state like Nevada with a greatly diminished voice in the outcome of national electoral contests. Nevada’s lead in presidential primaries will be for naught.
Things are moving fast in the Legislature as I write this, the ramifications of which will be felt when the 2024 election arrives. So, don’t be idle. Let your voice be heard and be a part of the process. You can research these bills or others and their progression through the Nelis web portal. If you create a login, you can vote and comment on bills using the link at the bottom of the Overview tab. You can also email or comment in person or telephonically. Emailed comments to committee are posted and links to committees and legislators are on Nelis.
In the immortal words of Benny Binion, former owner of The Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas. “You can do anything in Nevada you’re big enough to do.”
In the case of Cisco Aguilar and this runaway Legislature, Binion’s phrase equates to nothing less than a top-down takeover of Nevada elections.
- OPINION: The Top-Down Take Over of Nevada Elections - April 17, 2023
One thought on “OPINION: The Top-Down Take Over of Nevada Elections”
The ranked choice ballot question (backed by shelf stable chili cheese heiress). will be again voted on in less than 2 years I guess,