LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada county clerks will send a mail-in ballot to every registered voter, unless they opt-out, and voters will choose presidential candidates via primaries rather than caucuses with sweeping new legislation Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak signed into law Friday.
In all, the governor signed five bills that change the way Nevadans vote or register to vote.
“As of the end of May, lawmakers have introduced close to 400 restrictive bills in 48 states in the 2021 legislative sessions across the country, and more than 20 laws have already been enacted this year that will make it harder for Americans to vote,” Sisolak said during the signing ceremony. ”But today, in the great state of Nevada we are sending a strong message that the Silver State is not only bucking the national trend of infringing on voting rights, but rather we are doing everything we can to expand access to the polls while also ensuring our elections are secure and fair. And nothing sends that message like signing these five elections bills today.”
Assembly Bill 321 requires a registered voter to tell their county clerk they want to opt-out of receiving a mail-in ballot. The law also requires election workers take a class on signature verification.
Nevada moved to a temporary mail-in ballot program for the November 2020 election due to the coronavirus pandemic. Every active registered 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.
Earlier this year, Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson had said the bill makes participating in democracy easier and more secure.
Under the new law, voters will automatically get a mail-in ballot unless they decline. In person Election Day and early voting will remain available.
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%.
The signing of the bill on Friday was ceremonial. The governor had previously signed Assembly Bill 321 into law last week.
Assembly Bill 126 could make Nevada the site of the first-in-the-nation presidential primary, though that scheduling would need the backing of the national political parties to eventually make the change for the 2024 calendar.
The law requires Nevada to switch to primaries rather than caucuses and hold them on the first Tuesday of February.
The three other laws relate to voter registration, including creating a centralized state database of voters and allowing more state agencies to register voters other than the Department of Motor Vehicles.