Nevada officials outlined rules for the upcoming election year on Tuesday, including one to give the public more access to advance preparations for ballot-counting.
Matt Griffin, elections chief for Secretary of State Ross Miller, said the rule change will enable anyone to observe preliminary testing that's done to ensure election results will be accurate.
The regulation revisions, up for final approval on Thursday, should help to end distrust that some people have about the election process, mainly because a lack of knowledge, Griffin said, adding that more "transparency" in the process is a key goal for Miller.
While the rule says "any person" can observe the preparations, it also says people can be told to leave if they challenge county clerks' decisions, hand out election-related materials, take photographs, talk on cell phones or talk to staffers. Also, no campaign buttons are allowed.
Also among the rule changes is a section dealing with the voting rights of ex-felons and the documents that election clerks must see before allowing such people to vote.
Under the regulations, local election officials can rely on information from Miller's office showing that voting rights have been restored, on orders from a federal or state court or on documents from prison agencies in Nevada or other states or from federal prisons.
If election officials think a document is invalid or a forgery, they must try to verify it - but in the meantime must accept it as legitimate until it's proven to be bogus.
Other rule changes require county clerks to verify the address of voters signing petitions to ensure that the address matches the address of record for that voter. If the addresses don't match, the signature can't be counted.
The changes are based on legislation passed by state lawmakers earlier this year, or are updates of existing rules.
The 2008 election year won't include contests for governor or other statewide elective constitutional officers. Races for those offices, which have four-year terms, were decided in 2006. However, the state's congressional seats are up for grabs, and voters will decide races for all state Assembly seats and half of the state Senate seats. Numerous ballot questions also will be decided.