Gov. Sisolak signs permanent mail-in voting system into law

Politics

Nearly half of Nevada voted by mail in 2020 election

Voting ballot: Absentee voting by mail with candidates and measures on paper and pen with glasses

CARSON CITY, Nev. (KLAS) — Permanent mail-in voting is now the law of the land in Nevada following Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak’s signature. The governor signed Assembly Bill 321 into law Wednesday, making Nevada the sixth state to have such a system.

The law requires a Nevada voter to opt-out rather than opt-in to receiving a mail-in ballot. It passed the Nevada Assembly and state Senate along party lines last Wednesday. Democrats did not need a single Republican vote to pass the bill due to their constitutional majorities in both houses.

The law also requires election workers take a class on signature verification and limits the number of days a mail-in ballot can be accepted from seven to four. Election Day in-person voting will continue to remain available.

Additionally, the law requires the Secretary of State’s Office to work with the State Registrar of Vital Statistics to crosscheck a statewide active voter registration list.

“At a time when state legislatures across the country are attempting to roll back access to the polls, I am so proud that Nevada continues to push forward with proven strategies that make voting more accessible and secure,” Gov. Sisolak said in a statement. “Nevada has always been widely recognized as a leader in election administration and with this legislation, we will continue to build on that legacy.”

“I’m proud of the work we did to expand access to the ballot box for all eligible Nevadans,” Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson said. “As John Lewis said, voting is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democracy. While other states across the country move to make voting more restrictive, Nevada shines as a leader in protecting this fundamental sacred right. I’m honored to have played a part in expanding the freedom to vote in our beloved state.”

Nevada moved to a temporary mail-in ballot program for the November 2020 election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Every voter, regardless of if they wanted a mail-in ballot, received one. Nearly half of all votes in the 2020 Election in Nevada were cast by mail, the Secretary of State’s Office reported.

Republicans gained seats in the Senate and Assembly with the Nevada’s first widescale test of mail-in voting in the most recent election, though President Joe Biden won the state by more than 30,000 votes or about 2%.

Nevada Republicans had introduced a bill this session to require a voter to provide proof of identity at the polls, but that proposal did not move forward due to a lack of support. Lawyers for former President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign claimed 1,500 deceased Nevadans voted in the November election, but this claim was tossed out of court several times and never proven with sufficient evidence.

The I-Team found 10 instances of dead individuals having votes cast in their names. The Secretary of State’s Office, which is headed by a Republican, the Nevada Supreme Court and several judges said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

In November, the I-Team confirmed state officials were investigating at least two cases of ballots cast in the names of deceased individuals on Clark County’s voter rolls.

In one case, Rosemarie Hartle, of Las Vegas, died in 2017 at age 52 from breast cancer, her husband, Kirk Hartle, told the I-Team. A ballot for Rosemarie was issued and later received by the county. The I-Team found even though Rosemarie died in 2017, her name appears on the active voter list.  

Rosemarie’s signature matched to what Clark County officials had on records, officials said. Until their investigation is complete, there is no way to know who signed the ballot. 

“That is pretty sickening to me to be honest with you,” Kirk Hartle told the I-Team in November.  

Rosemarie’s ballot was issued on Oct. 9. It was returned the day before Election Day, according to BallotTrax, the system Clark County uses to track ballots from when they are dispatched to when they are counted.

In an unrelated case, a Las Vegas man who died in 2017 also had a mail-in ballot cast in his name. Clark County officials said it appears his ballot was returned by a family member, who herself did not vote.  

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