Guy Farmer: Is mail-in voting safe?

When Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, a Democrat, rejected Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske's call for tighter controls over so-called "ballot harvesting" last Tuesday, I became seriously concerned about the statewide mail-in voting we'll experience on Nov. 3.

Previously, Cegavske had assured us that mail-in voting would be safe for November's hotly contested presidential election, but things took an ominous turn on Tuesday when Sisolak refused to issue an executive order that would have required anyone turning in a ballot for someone else, or multiple voters, to register with the Secretary of State's Office and disclose any "corporate, political or advocacy groups they're associated with." In other words, our governor approved mostly unregulated ballot harvesting, which is a red flag warning for Nevada voters.

Nevertheless, the Silver State survived the June primary election in pretty good shape even though there were a few glitches with mail-in ballots, mostly in Clark County. I actually agreed with right-wing firebrand Chuck Muth earlier this month when he wrote that "the November election will NOT be an ALL mail-in vote like the primary," he wrote. "You'll have the CHOICE to vote by mail, vote early in-person or vote in-person on Election Day."

Those seem like three reasonable, viable options to me. Just for the record, I plan to fill out my mail-in ballot and deposit it in the box designated for that purpose at the County Courthouse. That way I won't have to rely on the painfully slow U.S. Postal Service. Democrats accuse President Trump of trying to sabotage the election by withholding funds from USPS while Trump accuses Democrats of attempting to "rig" the election by sending mail-in ballots to everyone on outdated voter rolls.

That probably won't happen in Nevada, however, because ballots will only be mailed to 1.6 million eligible "active" voters in the Silver State in accordance with a bill passed by the 2020 Legislature. But at least 5 percent of those ballots — more than 80,000 of them — will be returned as "undeliverable," which could make a difference. The good news is that ballots won't be sent to approximately 300,000 additional voters who are classified as "inactive" for not voting in recent elections.

Earlier this year, Cegavske claimed "Nevada is a leader in providing access to voting, and administering elections." I'm inclined to believe her because I was a Carson City elections worker for 16 years, from 1996 through 2012, and never saw a single instance of voter fraud. Nevertheless, as ex-President Reagan used to say, Trust, but verify.

Although Trump sued Nevada for deciding to mail ballots to all active voters, his lawsuit will go nowhere because there are 50 state election laws in our republic, and the president can't change those laws by executive decree.

USPS, now headed by a Trump mega-donor, has warned states their deadlines "for requesting and casting mail-in ballots are incongruous (incompatible) with the Postal Service's (lax) delivery standards." I know this for a fact because letters to family and friends in Seattle and Southern California can take a week or more to get there. My advice is to vote early, well before Election Day, Nov. 3.

A nationwide mask mandate?

The Democrats' masked presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden, demands a three-month nationwide mask mandate, and lockdown. We know masks are essential in crowds, when shopping for groceries or when dining out, but I won't be wearing a mask when I'm out on empty Kings Canyon walking trails. Meanwhile, basement-bound Biden wears a mask at all times so that he never has to answer difficult questions. C'mon, Man!

Guy W. Farmer is the Appeal's senior political columnist.


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