Nevada Democrats are ramming through legislation to make last year’s chaotic “emergency” voting procedures permanent.
On Wednesday, the Democrat-controlled General Assembly approved a measure that would legalize ballot harvesting and make universal mail-in voting a permanent fixture of elections, both changes that were initially implemented to be temporary last year.
Assembly Bill 321, now moving on for consideration in the upper chamber, requires registered voters to opt out rather than opt in to receiving a mail-in ballot. The law sets up ballots to be sent out automatically as they were in the fall, where nearly all votes cast were by mail, according to the Nevada Secretary of State’s office.
Former Nevada Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison said the potential changes threaten to undermine already battered faith in the state’s elections, which in 2020 saw confirmed cases of ballots cast by deceased voters. The Trump campaign charged 1,500 ballots were cast by dead voters, but subsequent investigations by local media and the Nevada secretary of state’s office, run by a Republican, did not find evidence to corroborate that number.
The potential legalization of ballot harvesting, Hutchison said, which was supposed to be a temporary rule change pushed by Democrat Gov. Steve Sisolak in the name of a public health emergency, will erode confidence in subsequent contests.
“Last year’s pandemic-inspired changes have damaged the faith many Nevadans had in the electoral process,” Hutchison said in a Thursday statement. “Democrats and Governor Sisolak promised mailing unsolicited ballots and allowing paid partisan staffers to go door-to-door collecting strangers’ ballots would only be for emergencies, and less than a year they are going back on their word.”
The Nevada state Senate is also considering a bill to allow straight-ticket voting, which would offer residents the option to check a box for a particular party to automatically vote for each candidate of the chosen slate. This would set Nevada apart from the rest of the nation in moving away from what has become an outdated method to cast ballots.
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, only six states offered voters the choice to vote by straight-ticket, while legislators in 16 others abolished the practice over the last two decades.
As Nevada lawmakers moved to make pandemic changes dictating elections permanent, Republican Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel railed the effort as “a recipe for disaster.” Mistakes in last year’s contest provoked an avalanche of litigation including ballots sent to outdated addresses.
Codifying these practices is a recipe for disaster.
It is reported that in 2020, 20% of mail ballots in Clark County were sent to outdated addresses, leading to hundreds of thousands of unclaimed live ballots statewide. (2/4)
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) May 26, 2021
Nevada, where President Joe Biden won by fewer than 34,000 votes, was one of the final states to certify the winner of its six electoral votes.