Update on Nevada’s mail-in election fiasco

By Chuck Muth
The Secretary of State’s order changing Nevada’s primary election to an all-mail election statewide is yet another major corona-mess. But I’ve finally learned what’s being argued as the legal basis for the decision in Nevada Revised Statute…
NRS 293.213 Mailing precincts; absent ballot mailing precincts.
1. Whenever there were not more than 20 voters registered in a precinct for the last preceding general election, the county clerk may establish that precinct as a mailing precinct.
2. Except as otherwise provided in NRS 293.208, the county clerk in any county in which an absent ballot central counting board is appointed may abolish two or more existing mailing precincts and combine those mailing precincts into absent ballot precincts. Those mailing precincts must be designated absent ballot mailing precincts.
3. In any county in which an absent ballot central counting board is appointed, any established precinct which had less than 200 ballots cast at the last preceding general election, or any newly established precinct with less than 200 registered voters, may be designated an absent ballot  mailing precinct.
4. A county clerk may establish a mailing precinct or an absent ballot mailing precinct that does not meet the requirements of subsection 1, 2 or 3 if the county clerk obtains prior approval from the Secretary of State. (my emphasis)
5. The county clerk shall, at least 14 days before establishing or designating a precinct as a mailing precinct or absent ballot mailing precinct or before abolishing a mailing precinct pursuant to this section, cause notice of such action to be: (a) Posted in the manner prescribed for a regular meeting of the board of county commissioners; and (b) Mailed to each Assemblyman, Assemblywoman, State Senator, county commissioner and, if applicable, member of the governing body of a city who represents residents of a precinct affected by the action.
This statute was clearly adopted to address concerns about precincts with a small number of registered voters in them.
What these county clerks and registrars are trying to do is apply this statute — specifically section (4) – to EVERY precinct in their ENTIRE county for reasons that have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the number of registered voters in a precinct. It is, to say the least, a stretch of metaphysical proportions.
Nevertheless, even if you accept the premise that this statute can be applied to an entire county for reasons other than the number of registered voters, it can only be done with “prior approval from the Secretary of State.”
The statute doesn’t REQUIRE the Secretary of State to grant their request. It simply says the Secretary of State has the power to approve or not approve the request.
Alas, in her press release yesterday Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske gave blanket approval to all 17 counties to declare their ENTIRE county a “mailing precinct.” She had the power to say no, but didn’t. So yes, she owns this.
Now, about that 14-day notice the county clerks have to give: Does this mean the county commissions can over-rule them? No one seems to know. Yet. But it’s being looked into.
Meanwhile, one of my readers received an email from the Nye County Clerk providing her reasoning for demanding a mail-in election. Here’s what Sandra Merlino wrote…
“You may have heard that Nevada is going to conduct the Primary Election by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic which means I won’t need poll workers for early voting or election day. We came to this decision with the safety of our workers and the voters in mind.”
Another reader got this explanation from Joe Gloria, Registrar of Voters for Clark County… “The situation with coronavirus and workers/voters being concerned with getting out and being exposed to the virus will not change in thirty or sixty days. This could stretch into July or August, and even further for that matter. The larger issue here is limiting the spread of the virus, mail ballot voting is the only answer to limit exposure and still allow voters the ability to vote.” Oh, horsesh…er, feathers. Consider this: —Georgia moved its primary to May 19 — WEEKS before Nevada’s scheduled primary —Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Rhode Island and Delaware have moved their primaries to June 2 — again, BEFORE Nevada’s scheduled primary —Louisiana postponed its primary to June 20 and Kentucky moved its to June 23 — just days after Nevada’s scheduled primary.
So all of these other states will be holding THEIR primaries around the same time Nevada is saying it’s too risky? I guess all those states don’t care about the safety of their workers and voters, right?
But you wanna know what’s REALLY scary about Mr. Gloria’s response? If this rationale is accepted and implemented for the primary, the same excuse will be used to make our GENERAL election a mail-in election.
One final note on this…
If it’s secure for people to simply sign a ballot and mail it in for an election, why isn’t it secure for someone to sign, say, a RECALL PETITION and mail it in?
As it stands right now, unless there’s been a change in the law I’m unaware of, the only way to sign a recall petition or ballot initiative petition and mail it in is if you have it NOTARIZED first.
If you don’t have to have your signature notarized to vote, why do you have to have your signature notarized to sign a petition. Makes. No. Sense.
* * * * *
Chuck Muth is president of CitizenOutreach.org and publisher of NevadaNewsandViews.com. He blogs at MuthsTruths.com. His views are his
own.

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