By Sam Kumar
In the 2020 election cycle, in a special session, in the middle of the night, using COVID-related emergency powers, by a partisan vote in both chambers, Nevada’s Democrat legislators passed AB4. This bill allowed for a mostly mail-in ballot and legalized a process called ballot harvesting, which was until then a felony. Ballot harvesting allowed non-family members including party workers to collect and turn in ballots. In the current legislative session, Assembly Bill AB321 attempts to make most of those “emergency” provisions permanent. There are far more important reforms that the state legislature should focus on instead of blindly mailing ballots to anyone without it even being requested, and this column outlines some of those reforms.
Proof of Citizenship: Contrary to what most readers may consider to be common sense, Nevada does not require proof of citizenship for voter registration. All you have to do is sign a document stating that you are a citizen. Given the fact that voter registration had expanded in just the past couple of years to include same-day registration and motor-voter registration, proof of citizenship should be at the top of the list of election reforms.
Picture ID: Before a ballot is issued at a polling station, the voter should present a picture ID. The picture ID merely identifies the person as someone who he/she claims he/she is and does not establish citizenship and eligibility to vote. Thus, picture ID is meaningless without implementing the proof of citizenship requirement outlined in the previous section. As readers are probably aware, non-citizens and even persons in this country illegally can obtain a picture ID. The state should provide voter IDs free of cost to all legally registered voters.
Absentee Ballots only with ID: Absentee balloting is often confused with mail-in balloting. Mail-in balloting, as implemented in the 2020 cycle, results in ballots being mailed to anyone on the voter roll (Clark County even sent ballots to voters classified as inactive, which means that voter no longer lives at that address). In contrast, Absentee ballots are only sent out if the voter has requested them. While absentee ballots have been legal in Nevada for as long as one can remember, and should continue to be legal, a copy of Voter ID should accompany the absentee ballot for it to be accepted.
Signature Verification: Signature verification should be real. As Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist explains in his column, right now, the signature verification is a joke. Joecks ran a test and the system accepted just about anything as a signature. I strongly recommend reading his column by clicking on the link. Signature verification machines should be properly tested to ensure they are accurately accepting valid signatures and rejecting invalid signatures before accepting the ballot.
Same Day Results: We currently have a system that allows for absentee ballots (you can request an absentee ballot for just one election, for all elections during a single election year, or you can request to become a permanent absentee voter), early voting (for 14 days) and election day voting. There are both ample time and options for anyone wanting to vote, to vote. If your ballot is not received by 7 pm on election day, your ballot should not count. Votes trickling in for over a week after election day, with the lead changing several times during those nine days, do not engender confidence in the election process.
One final point: To argue that asking for an ID is racist is pure nonsense. Simple activities like buying tobacco/alcohol, cashing a check, getting a COVID vaccine, all require a valid picture ID. Are all those activities an expression of racism? If our founding fathers shed their blood to gain us the right to vote, and our young men die in overseas wars to preserve that right, the least we can do is to get off our rear ends and get a picture ID to exercise that right.