Nevada Democrats ask for changes to mail-in primary election
LAS VEGAS — Nevada Democrats say the state’s plan to conduct its June primary almost entirely by mail because of the coronavirus could make it difficult for people to vote or have their ballots counted unless the secretary of state makes some changes.
Lawyers for the state Democratic Party sent a letter Friday to Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske raising concerns about half a dozen rules or proposals that they say need to be changed or the election could be unconstitutional and violate state laws.
Cegavske, a Republican, announced last month that she was canceling most in-person voting for the June 9 primary because of the pandemic. Election officials plan to mail ballots to “active registered voters,” who would mail them back in prepaid envelopes or bring them to drop-off locations.
Inactive voters, who haven’t voted in a series of elections and failed to respond to a mailing card asking them to confirm their address, will not have ballots sent to them unless they update their registration or contact the secretary of state’s office.
Cegavske’s office said it would allow at least one in-person polling location in each county to accommodate a new law allowing people to register to vote the same day they go to the polls.
Nevada Democrats are asking the secretary of state’s office to require the most populous counties to have more than one in-person voting center and to suspend rules barring people from having someone else drop off their ballot. They are calling for ballots to be sent to all registered voters, instead of just active registered voters.
Wayne Thorley, deputy secretary of state for elections, said Monday that Cegavske’s office was still reviewing the Democrats’ letter and had no immediate comment.
Democrats also are asking the election office to suspend a requirement that a voter’s signature on the back of the ballot match their signature on file, contending that “lay election officials have never had the necessary expertise to determine accurately whether a voter’s ballot signature matches the signature on her registration.”
Thorley said comparing signatures on an envelope is the same as when a voter shows up at the polls. They are asked to sign a roster in person, and that signature is compared with a signature on file.
He did not have details about how many polling centers would be in the most populous counties but said the office would release a list of locations this week.
Like other elections, the primary will include a 14-day early voting period when people can show up at vote centers to cast a ballot, but the number of facilities will be limited. Thorley said voters and poll workers will be kept apart to follow social distancing guidelines, paper ballots will be used instead of machines, and surfaces and pens will be sanitized between voters.
Nevada has closed primary elections, which means voters need to be registered with a political party to vote in that party’s primary.
Thorley said that if a voter wants to change their political affiliation and get that party’s ballot mailed to them, they should change their affiliation now online. They can do that up through June 2. After that, voters wanting to change their affiliation have to show up at the polls during early voting or on election day.