Frierson pushing for more open elections
April 4, 2017
Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, said Tuesday Nevada's election rules need to change to "essentially encourage as many people to participate in the electoral process."
Assembly Bill 272 would make a variety of changes designed to allow county clerks to expand voting hours, allow people to vote at the nearest poll center instead of just one, expand languages Nevada ballots are printed in and provide polling centers on Indian reservations.
A key change, he said, is having clerks establish poll centers where, on the day of the general election, any qualified elector can vote instead of making them go to the precinct polling place where they live.
"A lot of people show up on election day unable to vote because their polling place changed," he said.
The reason, he said, is simple confusion because those people were able to vote at any polling place during early voting, whether or not it was the one representing the area they live in.
In addition, AB272 would allow county election officials to extend voting until 9 p.m. if they need to. He said that change recognizes "people have varying work schedules in our communities." He said it may be changed by amendment since law already allows everyone in line when the polls close at 7 p.m. to vote even if it takes until later that night.
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Frierson said his bill would require ballots be provided not only in English and Spanish but Mandarin and Cantonese since Nevada has more than 30,000 Chinese speakers, many of whom are much more proficient in their native language.
In addition, it would allow county election officials to work with Nevada's Indian tribes and colonies to provide polling places at those locations.
The bill would also allow clerks to extend early voting to include the Sunday before the General Election.
"At the end of the day, what we want is more people to vote," Frierson said.
Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, said in his experience, the vote center concept where any qualified elector can vote is a key idea.
In early voting, he said, "it didn't matter where you lived."
"Then, come to election day and suddenly we're back in the 1950s again and you've got to find this school before 7 p.m. and if not, you can't vote."
He said people should be able to vote "wherever they show up."
The bill was supported by several tribal spokesmen, the ACLU, League of Women Voters, and Conservation Voters among others.
There was no opposition to the bill.