Home>Feature>After Primary ‘Glitch’, Think Tank Calls for Bipartisan Changes To Nevada Election Laws

Voters in Clark County, Nevada line up to cast ballots. (Image: Shutterstock)

After Primary ‘Glitch’, Think Tank Calls for Bipartisan Changes To Nevada Election Laws

Distrust in the electoral process is voter supression

By Megan Barth, February 23, 2024 1:14 pm

With voter confidence reaching new lows after a “glitchy” state primary, Nevada Policy has released a 42 page paper (see below) highlighting the need for bipartisan legislative action to address Nevadans concerns and restore confidence, security and transparency in Silver State elections.

“Trust in our electoral system has declined in recent years, but we believe the solutions in our paper can help reverse that trend,” said Nevada Policy President John Tsarpalas. “Nevada’s elections should be free, fair and transparent, and our paper explains what we can do to ensure that happens…Our goal is to improve and increase public confidence in our voting process,” Tsarpalas said.

In fact, Nevada ranks dead last in Election Integrity according to a study provided by the Heritage Foundation. The survey says that “There are many vulnerabilities in our system that make election fraud easy to commit and hard to catch… Not only does fraud diminish voters say in their government but it also diminishes their faith in the integrity of our unique American experiment.”

An unsettling CNN poll conducted after the 2022 election found that one in five Nevadans lack confidence in elections and election results. A poll by the Nevada Independent produced similar results and found that over 70 percent of Nevadans support Voter ID.

Protestor in front of Washoe County Registrars Office (Photo: Source)

Yet, the lack of confidence in the electoral process is not purely partisan. As Nevada Policy keenly notes:

The fever of election distrust is not naturally confined to voters on any one side of the political spectrum; it has broken out within recent memory among groups of voters on the Democratic and progressive side. Such was the case with the widespread belief that foreign powers had remotely tampered with election machine tallies in 2016, and the earlier belief, propelled by talk shows and even by some elected officials, that misconduct relating to Diebold voting machines had stolen elections for George W. Bush and other Republicans. There was never credible evidence for either claim.

Below, Nevada Policy highlights, as the Globe has reported, that the Democratic legislative majority led by former Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak, unilaterally changed how Nevadans vote during a special legislative session in 2020 during the pandemic.

Ushering in hyper-partisan changes during the special session were far from transparent as members of the public and the press were not allowed into the building.

Even more than most states, Nevada sharply revamped its electoral methods during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2020 its legislature adopted full vote by mail with mailed ballots, required counties to establish ballot drop boxes, mandated a minimum number of in-person polling places, eased the cure process for rejected ballots and legalized the practice of ballot collection, all at first on an emergency basis that it subsequently made permanent.

The state also implemented two measures adopted shortly before then, automatic voter registration through motor vehicles offices and same-day registration. In large part because of these changes, many progressive election advocacy groups now rank Nevada highly among states exemplifying their preferences. (emphasis added).

Election reform should be – but in Carson City hasn’t always been – a bipartisan affair. As a so-called purple state, Nevada badly needs bipartisan buy-in on a combination of practices broadly responsive to the reasonable concerns of both parties. Voter convenience and ballot integrity, reliability and transparency, should not be seen as red or blue, Democratic or Republican causes. That also requires all sides to see that there are going to be inevitable trade-offs between good things, in elections as in the rest of life. The quest is not for perfection, which no system can deliver, but for best practices.

Democratic leaders, Assm. Steve Yeager, AG Aaron Ford, SOS Cisco Aguilar and Treasurer Zach Conine hold a press conference at the NV state capitol, May 3, 2023 (Photo: Megan Barth for The Nevada Globe)

These sweeping reforms to Nevada’s election laws were made without a single Republican vote.

The lack of bipartisanship when changing how Nevadan’s exercise their fundamental right to vote certainly caused a heightened distrust in the electoral process, yet any changes introduced by Governor Lombardo and Republican legislators during the last legislative session were “dead on arrival” and never received a hearing.

Despite lacking ballot chain of custody and Voter ID, unlimited and unsecured ballot harvesting, delayed election results, and glitchy primaries, SOS Aguilar proudly maintains that Nevada’s elections are safe, secure and transparent. Democratic Attorney General Aaron Ford shockingly stated that Voter ID was “unconstitutional” despite dozens of states requiring identification to vote.

Although SOS Aguilar and his Democratic colleagues dismiss concerns and widespread distrust in elections with unconvincing claims of “safe and secure elections,” distrust in the electoral process is voter suppression.

It is safe to assume that any election integrity measures recommended by Nevada Policy or drafted by Republican legislators will continue to be “dead on arrival” with a Democratic majority, a majority that is one state Senate seat away from having a veto-proof supermajority.

As voters look toward Washington DC to choose their next president in 2024, Nevadans who are concerned with election integrity are encouraged to look in their own back yards and at down-ballot elections in order to usher in Assembly and Senate proponents who can restore their voice and their confidence in Silver State elections and restore a bipartisan balance in the state legislature.

Election Integrity Paper for release


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