By Joseph Choi
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) last Wednesday signed a new bill that expands mail-in voting to all registered voters, requiring local election officials to send out mail ballots before a primary or general election.
“At a time when State legislatures across the country are attempting to roll back access to the polls, I am so proud that Nevada continues to push forward with proven strategies that make voting more accessible and secure,” Sisolak said in a press release. “Nevada has always been widely recognized as a leader in election administration and with this legislation, we will continue to build on that legacy.”
This legislation expanding voter access comes as several GOP-controlled state legislatures have moved to tighten voter restrictions following the presidential election. The 2020 race saw record turnout as the pandemic required social distancing and states relied heavily on early and mail-in voting for Americans to cast their ballots.
Lawmakers in 14 states, the majority of which have Republican legislatures and governors, have passed 22 bills to tighten voting restrictions, according to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University. The year’s tally of legislation like this is expected to grow.
Among the restrictions, states like Iowa and Montana have passed legislation to reduce the hours of polling places. Others have scaled back early voting hours, and sought to limit ballot drop box usage.
A controversial Georgia voting law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp (R) earlier this year included a provision that prohibited distributing food and drink to voters standing in line at the polls.
“While other states across the country move to make voting more restrictive, Nevada shines as a leader in protecting this fundamental sacred right. I’m honored to have played a part in expanding the freedom to vote in our beloved state,” Nevada State Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson (D) said in a statement.
President Biden won the state of Nevada over former President Trump in November, though the results were challenged later by the Trump campaign. The challenge ultimately failed.
Forbes notes that Nevada is the sixth U.S. state to roll out automatic mail-in voting, with Vermont likely to become the seventh.
The bill also allows for electronic devices to approve signatures on mail-in ballots, along with other security measures.
Democratic state lawmakers in Texas this week staged a walkout in order to prevent the passage of an expansive election overhaul bill.
The bill would require that voters who request mail-in ballots prove that they cannot go to the polls in-person due to illness, injury or disability.
By Joseph Choi