Tag Archives: Nevada election law

Early Voting Begins in Nevada, and why it should be expanded

Vote Early And it’s on! Early voting has started in Nevada, and for those not already saturated by campaign information we share the times for voting in at least one of the rural counties (Humboldt):

Monday October 24 through Friday October 28: Early voting can be done at the County Courthouse (Winnemucca) from 8 am to 6:00 pm.  The Clerk’s office will be open from 10 am to 6 pm on Saturday October 29, and Early Voting hours are 8 am to 8 pm from Monday October 31 through Friday November 4.

You know you’re a battleground when POTUS shows up.  The Las Vegas Sun covers his speech on behalf of Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto.  The billionaire’s fishwrapper of record gains the dubious distinction of being the only major paper to endorse Donald Trump.  Let’s Talk Nevada has Pictures, and interesting information, well worth the click over to their site.   There’s always at least one willing to douse the enthusiasm for early voting – and this year he doesn’t disappoint.

“There is no good reason – for almost every voter – not to wait until Election Day, so you have the maximum information, including something that could break in the final fortnight. A scandal. A revelation about someone’s character. More information.”  [RGJ]

Here’s what’s fundamentally wrong with this analysis.  First, it promotes one of the worst features of American campaign politics – the last minute unanswerable attack.  This, for many election cycles, has been a campaign scheduling trick designed to attack an opponent with a charge which due to the timing is predicated on the notion that the victim of the ploy doesn’t have time to answer. Thus, all the dirty tricks are withheld until the last possible effective moment – like 24 hours before election day.   So, if I were to employ this artifice I’d have a lovely Photo-Shopped graphic of my opponent embracing a wild-eyed maniac beheading a baby while slaughtering puppies and kittens, all presented in a shiny colorful mailer.   There’s no time to adequately debunk this bit of bluster.  Early voting allows a campaign to avoid this destructive, and definitely uninformative, tactic.

Secondly, the argument is dismissive of any effort to relieve the burden on voting registrars, election officials, and county clerks.  There was a time in which all voting could be done in 24 hours without long delays and attendant problems – but that day has long gone in the face of population increases.

In 1980 Clark County, Nevada had approximately 463,067 residents, the 2014 estimates place it at 2,069,450.  Washoe County had 193,623 residents at the time of the 1980 elections; the 2014 estimate is 436,797.  Mineral County is the only statistical area in which there has been a population decrease since 1980, and others like Nye County have experienced significant growth from 9,408 to 45,456 or Lyon County growing from 13,594 to 53,334 during the same period. [NV Demo]  [WRDC pdf]

The counter, of course, is that as populations increase so do the number of polling sites.  Not really.  An EAC study reported that the number of polling sites increased with some regularity until 2000 at which time the precincts  actually decreased.

Table 13a. Number of Precincts Nationwide, 1980–2004
Number of
Election Year Precincts
2004 185,994
2002 189,900
2000 184,850
1998 185,444
1996 180,834
1994 181,497
1992 177,691
1990 177,101
1988 178,034
1986 176,326
1980 167,037

While it might be tempting to engage in some conspiracy theories at this point – and some voter suppression schemes do tend to reduce polling places in minority and lower income neighborhoods – there’s also a plausible explanation incorporating the notion that polling has become far more expensive with the electronic voting machines required.

Therefore, given the populations increases, the increased cost of election equipment, and the costs of staffing precinct polling sites, combined with the pressure to reduce local government budgets, one has to either accept that elections are going to be more expensive (and budget accordingly) or hope that early voting periods allow a local government to spread overtime and equipment budgets over a longer period of time so that additional costs aren’t incurred.

Third, the argument while traditionalist is also condescending to those who don’t have the luxury of waiting in line for three hours to vote.  Nevada includes time and distance into the allowance of time off to vote on a work day:

NRS 293.463  Employees may absent themselves from employment to vote: Procedure; penalty.
     1.  Any registered voter may be absent from his or her place of employment at a time to be designated by the employer for a sufficient time to vote, if it is impracticable for the voter to vote before or after his or her hours of employment. A sufficient time to vote shall be determined as follows:
     (a) If the distance between the place of such voter’s employment and the polling place where such person votes is 2 miles or less, 1 hour.
     (b) If the distance is more than 2 miles but not more than 10 miles, 2 hours.
     (c) If the distance is more than 10 miles, 3 hours.
     2.  Such voter may not, because of such absence, be discharged, disciplined or penalized, nor shall any deduction be made from his or her usual salary or wages by reason of such absence.
     3.  Application for leave of absence to vote shall be made to the employer or person authorized to grant such leave prior to the day of the election.
     4.  Any employer or person authorized to grant the leave of absence provided for in subsection 1, who denies any registered voter any right granted under this section, or who otherwise violates the provisions of this section, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

If the county can’t spread out the time for voting, then it’s entirely possible a person could be 2 miles from the polling site and have to wait in a two hour line.  And, presumably, the employer could dock paychecks within the reading of the law.

Aside from the practical matter of long lines and tenuous guarantees of permission to take time off to vote, there’s the matter of condescension.  To argue that voting is the ultimate act of civic duty which everyone should embrace no matter the personal cost, is perilously close to the contention that voting is a privilege.  No amount of flag waving, banner hoisting, and parading about, will remove the scent of patronization – those who are really truly patriotic will vote even if it costs them dearly – which is very nice for the boss and those who can take the entire day if they wish, and not so convenient for those who can’t.

Finally, in an election season such as this one – interminable, and more annoying than necessary – early voting gives a citizen a way to say: Whatever someone else may want is fine – just let me get this over with!

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Filed under Vote Suppression, Voting

Cegavske: A Solution in Search of a Problem – Vote Suppression Nevada Style

State Senator Barbara Cegavske (R-Clark8) would like to be our next Secretary of State, in part because:

“One of my main goals is to ensure the integrity of elections in Nevada. It is one of the fundamental tenets of our state and federal constitution in which we all believe. I strongly support and encourage the active participation of all the citizens of Nevada to exercise their right to vote. Nevada voters deserve assurance that the manner in which their elections are conducted and in which the votes are counted, is above reproach. I will endeavor to provide that assurance.” (emphasis added)

Notice the Buzz Words.  “Integrity of elections,” and “Voters deserve assurance.”  Both of the phrases are connected to the Republican vote suppression rhetoric.  In fact, there is an Election Integrity project, operating out of Santa Clarita, CA.  Some background may be in order at this point.

Follow The Money

Catherine Englebrecht is the founder of the King Street Patriots and and True the Vote — a product of the maelstrom of right wing politics which is the state of Texas.  Convinced that Hispanic and African American voters, abetted by the ‘nefarious’ ACORN were fraudulently participating in elections, the self-styled Patriots and Truthers, launched various and sundry schemes to minimize the votes from African American, Hispanic, and young people.  Elections, the self-styled Patriots said, should be free from any contamination and from charges of fraud and sloppy practices — translation — too many “other kinds of people” voting.

Adding one more link to the chain, the attorney representing True the Vote, is none other than Kelly Shackelford, of the free market think tank Liberty Institute. A few more clicks and we find Shackelford listed as the president of the Free Market Foundation, which in turn links to the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.  And, wonder of wonders … check deeply enough and there’s a Koch Brothers connection: “The Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Claude R. Lambe Foundation both support the Atlas Economic Research Foundation.[3]$113,800 received from Koch foundations 2005–2008 Total Koch foundation grants 1997–2008: $122,300 [4] [SW]

There’s another link to right wing organizations which have proposed vote suppression measures:  The State Policy Network is funded by all the usual suspects, major corporate interests like Reynolds American, Altria (tobacco), Microsoft, AT&T, Verizon, GlaxoSmithKline, Kraft Foods, Comcast, Time Warner, and … the Koch Brothers. [SPN funding]  The link is formed when we find out that True The Vote received funding from the State Policy Network during the 2012 election season. [ConsTrans]  We’d be remiss if it weren’t noted that the State Policy Network also bestowed its largess on the Nevada Policy Research Institute. {above, p.2}

From whence comes the funding for the State Policy Network?  A significant portions comes from the Pope Foundation and other conservative funding fonts, along with a very healthy infusion of money from the Donors Capital Trust.  Read: Koch Brothers.

And yet still another — to Judicial Watch.  This organization has made no secret of its desire to restrict the opportunities of ‘undesirables’ to vote, as indicated by some of its activities in Florida and other states.

“Judicial Watch is crusading to force states to carry out voter-roll purges like the one that has subjected Florida to multiple lawsuits. Together with Judicial Watch, True the Vote formed the 2012 Election Integrity Project, launched in February at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC). Through the Election Integrity Project, the group has sued to allow Florida’s purge program to commence, and has sent letters threatening lawsuits in Indiana and Ohio to do the same.” [HuffPo]

In the No Surprise Department we find Judicial Watch teaming up with the Election Integrity Project to “watch” the 2012 elections.  In case anyone was thinking some 700 people in Nevada’s Clean Up The Vote campaign came to all their notions from burning sage brush — the Clean Up The Vote is an affiliate of True The Vote. [NPR]

Follow the Record

It’s all well and proper to note the funding chain linking the Koch Brothers and their ultra-right wing allies with organizations seeking to propose and enact vote suppression activities, and another to claim that a particular candidate is aligned with their intentions. What’s the record?

During the 2013 Legislative session, Senator Cegavske was one of the primary sponsors of SB 239 in the fine print of which was the coordination of Social Security Administration and voter registration lists to “insure” dead people weren’t voting. Further, the bill would have allowed county clerks and election officials to send out sample ballots electronically.   First, we’d have to believe that there are “dead people” voting.  During testimony on the measure, Senator Settelmeyer (R-CUSA) defended the bill citing that his recently decease mother was still on the mailing lists of several candidates and campaigns. [Legis PDF]

Senator Cegavske also cited a family matter, noting that her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease was in a Minnesota nursing facility and the family had requested that mailings not be sent to her home address.  Representatives from the Secretary of State’s office noted that we should be cautious about removing anyone from voter rolls simply for being old, and that statutes do provide a process by which suffrage could be refused. [Legis PDF] At no point during the testimony on April 9, 2013 did any of the proponents of the bill describe any actual instances of fraudulent voting by or on behalf of dead people, demented people, or any other imposters.  There was no such testimony on May 8, 2013. [LegisPDF]   Nor was there any such testimony on May 20, 2013. [Legis PDF]

The Assembly side took up the bill on May 29, 2013.  Once more Sen. Settelmeyer spoke of his mother, but again, there was no testimony that any such actual voting impropriety had ever taken place. [Legis PDF] Nor was any such testimony forthcoming at the final hearing on June 3, 2013. [Legis PDF]

In 2009 Senator Cegavske was also concerned about fraudulent voting, as a primary sponsor of SB 315.  The bill received two hearings in the Nevada State Senate.  During the first of which the  point that photo identification was a “solution in search of a problem”  as opposed to the proponents laudatory contributions about the Indiana Voter Photo ID bill. [Legis PDF] During the last hearing Senator Lee asked the obvious: Do we need SB 315?  Senator Washington offered the Suppressionist Party Line in response:

“The voting process is sacred. We never want to give the impression of fraudulent voting. We need something in place to determine if there is voter fraud. Poll workers are there to stop any fraudulent voting. This would add one more safeguard to maintain integrity in the voting process.” [Leg PDF]

SB 315 died in committee. Note, once again, only the potential — after explanations aplenty from county and state officials that there was no evidence of voter impersonation — of fraud was ever alleged. At no point in testimony in either 2009 or 2013 was evidence of actual fraud brought forth.

We can go back yet another session, to 2007, in which Senator Cegavske sponsored SB 385, to require that county clerks issue voter ID cards.  The theme remained the same, there was a potential problem with impersonation — during the testimony given on the bill no one offered a single instance of actual voter fraud to the committee on March 27, 2007. [Leg PDF]  The bill got a “do pass” recommendation from the Senate committee, on March 29, 2007, but no examples of actual voter fraud emerged. [Leg PDF]

SB 385 came up for discussion again on May 3, 2007, with Barry Gold of the AARP testifying that approximately 125,000 elderly Nevadans would be negatively impacted by the bill. The hearing closed. [LegPDF]  A second hearing provided more examples of voter inconvenience and expense than it did of any real problems, especially since none of the latter were mentioned.  [LegPDF]  The bill never emerged from the State Senate.

And so, since 2007 Senator Cegavske has been looking for the solution to Senator Washington’s “problem,” i.e. how should legislation be crafted so that no Republican can ever claim any indication of potential voter fraud?   This is particularly difficult since the underpinning of the voter fraud allegations is the notion that Democrats can only win elections by cheating, and therefore, if a Democrat wins it must be by nefarious means.

We might await the day when more than six members of the Republican Party are willing to admit that various forms of suppression including purging rolls and photo identification requirements are simply about disenfranchising those who are likely to vote Democratic.  [National Memo]

It would be seemly if Senator Cegavske, while campaigning to assume the mantle of elections chief in this state would care to take some time to explain why she sought “solutions” to election problems which never actually took place, and existed only in the heated imaginations of right wing, Koch Brothers funded, political operatives and their think tanks.

 

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Filed under Nevada legislature, Nevada politics, Vote Suppression, Voting