Tag Archives: Nevada election laws

A Perception of Suppression: Voter ID Laws and Nevada Elections

The Nevada Secretary of State, Democrat Ross Miller has a solution in search of a problem? He is concerned about the “perception” of fraudulent activity in future Nevada elections:

“Miller’s proposal, which he will introduce during the next legislative session, includes linking Nevada’s voter lists with photos from the Department of Motor Vehicles so the voter’s picture would be displayed for poll workers before a ballot is cast. Voters who don’t have a driver’s license would have their picture taken and entered into the system the first time they vote in person.” [LVSun]

We should quickly note that the problem Miller seeks to prevent isn’t in person voter fraud — it’s the perception that some person could engage in voter impersonation fraud.   Those are two very different issues.

Nevada has had ZERO prosecutable cases of actual voter impersonation fraud in recent elections.  Therefore, the Secretary of State’s proposal is unnecessary as a solution to a real problem.

The proposal may be a well intentioned attempt to address the continual clamor of right wing ideologues who perceive all ethnic minority voters ( or Democrats) as potential frauds.  That may be an insoluble problem.

The intractability isn’t a result of actual, documented, prosecutable, voting fraud, but may well be a function of right wing delusions about the outcome of elections.  That is, so firm are they in the righteousness of their cause, the radical right cannot conceive of any outcome other than the one they desire.  Should their world view and attendant policies be rejected at the polls, they find comfort in the notion that the result must be the product of (1) voters misinformed by the “lame stream media,” (2) voters who have nefarious, possibly un-American views, and (3) election irregularities.

The delusions are enhanced by the right wing echo chamber media with well known, often documented, alleged cases of anecdotal reports of election irregularities reported as news; to be followed quickly by right wing legislators and officials citing those news accounts as “proof” election fraud exists.   No amount of electoral vigilance will suffice to comfort those who cannot accept election outcomes that don’t reinforce their righteous cause.  In short, some people will never be satisfied, by anything.

The second problem with Miller’s proposal is that given the non-existence of actual cases of voter impersonation, there’s something troubling about his admission that he doesn’t know what a voting identification system merging the voter rolls with DMV data will cost.   Radical right wing Assemblyman Ira Hansen (R-Sparks) who ordinarily opposes any expenditure of funds from the state coffers which serve real Nevadans in need, finds it laudable to spend funds for which no real-world problem exists.

As reported previously,* the third problem rests with the capacity of the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to act as the agency of resort for photo identification.

“Department of Motor Vehicles: Full service offices are located in Carson City, Elko, Ely, Fallon, Hawthorne, Henderson, (2) Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Laughlin, Mesquite, Pahrump, Reno, Tonopah, Winnemucca, and Yerington.  That’s 16 full service offices to serve a state of 109,806 square miles.”

Aside from the obvious problems for low income urban area residents to get to DMV offices, there’s the specter of the impact this proposal could have on elderly or low income voters in the rural counties for whom simply getting to a DMV office during regular hours could be problematic.

The official estimate of Nevada’s population is 2,723,322. [Census]  Of these, approximately 75% are over 18 years of age.  If 24.4% are under 18 years of age, that leaves 75.6% of the population as potential voters, and if we arbitrarily assume that all 19.3% of Nevada residents are not citizens (and are over the age of 18), we still have at least 56.3% (1,532,301) individuals who might need voter identification cards of some sort.   One compilation source estimates that Nevada has issued 1,487,899 driving licenses. [SM]  Thus the DMV might be called upon to issue at least some 45,331 forms of identification for voting purposes.

The third problem with the proposal concerns the level of connectivity between voting registrars and DMV facilities.  Nevada residents may register to vote if they have been residents of the state for 30 days.  For voters in the 2012 election the registration deadline was October 16, and the election was conducted on November 6, 2012.   It’s appropriate to ask: Can the DMV and the various county election agencies coordinate their rosters and rolls in the time between the registration deadline and the election day?  Can they do this without incurring additional expenses for personnel? Or, without paying significant overtime to current staff?

Again, it seems necessary to ask if all this expense, and all the attendant staffing questions, are required in order to address the concerns of intractable ideologues, and to provide a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist?

*Previous posts about vote suppression and ID laws here, and May 27, 2007, and September 20, 2006, and August 1, 2011, and August 18, 2012,  and May 14, 2007, and February 18, 2011.

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Filed under Nevada politics

Love Your County Clerk

Love your county clerk, or your county’s election officials in Nevada whatever title they may hold.  You can express your appreciation for their efforts over the next few days by doing some simple things.

#1. Vote.  They are ready for you to do that. They’ve been planning and allocating resources to give you the best voting ‘experience’ they can manage on usually minimal resources.

#2. Ask questions or ask for help.  If you experience any difficulties with your voting — like wondering why your vote isn’t registering the way you want because you are resting the palm or heel of your hand on the voting machine interface (yes, this happened) — ask for assistance before melting down into conspiracy theories or pounding on the voting machines, neither of which are productive activities that will solve your problem.

There are specific kinds of help available for Nevada voters who are disabled.  Voters with disabilities can find information about voting in Clark County here.  Information concerning Washoe County is available here.

#3. Do some homework.  Verify your registration if you feel you need to in advance.  You’ll find voting is easier if you’ve read the sample ballot.  It will tell you your polling place.  Check to be certain you’re going to the right one.  Read through the ballot questions ahead of time.  You’ll save your own time, and the time of those waiting in line behind you.

#4. Remember that if this is your first time voting and you registered by mail or did not provide identification when you registered, you’ll need ID.  If you have questions about this as a first time voter click here for additional explanations from the Secretary of State’s Office.  You can also find information from Clark County, and Washoe County election officials. LetMeVote (ACLU) has a pdf file of information on voting rights in Nevada which may also be helpful.

#5. Be Patient.  There may be some long lines. Bring some water or reading material with you if you expect a wait.  Cue up politely, County Clerks and Election Officials are not expected to be former primary school teachers who have special ‘voices’ for those who do not line up properly.

There may be others at the polls, but observers are required to follow the provisions of NRS 293.2738

NRS 293.274  Members of general public allowed to observe conduct of voting at polling place; photographing or otherwise recording conduct of voting by members of general public prohibited.

1.  The county clerk shall allow members of the general public to observe the conduct of voting at a polling place.

2.  A member of the general public shall not photograph the conduct of voting at a polling place or record the conduct of voting on audiotape or any other means of sound or video reproduction.

3.  For the purposes of this section, a member of the general public does not include any person who:

(a) Gathers information for communication to the public;

(b) Is employed or engaged by or has contracted with a newspaper, periodical, press association, or radio or television station; and

(c) Is acting solely within his or her professional capacity.

There are special provisions for challenges:

  NRS 293.303  Challenges.

      1.  A person applying to vote may be challenged:

(a) Orally by any registered voter of the precinct upon the ground that he or she is not the person entitled to vote as claimed or has voted before at the same election. A registered voter who initiates a challenge pursuant to this paragraph must submit an affirmation that is signed under penalty of perjury and in the form prescribed by the Secretary of State stating that the challenge is based on the personal knowledge of the registered voter.

#6. If you know of a person in your family or neighborhood who may need assistance at the polls volunteer to help.  NRS 293.296 describes who and how disabled voters can be assisted.

1.  Any registered voter who by reason of a physical disability or an inability to read or write English is unable to mark a ballot or use any voting device without assistance is entitled to assistance from a consenting person of his or her own choice, except:

(a) The voter’s employer or an agent of the voter’s employer; or

(b) An officer or agent of the voter’s labor organization.

2.  A person providing assistance pursuant to this section to a voter in casting a vote shall not disclose any information with respect to the casting of that ballot.

3.  The right to assistance in casting a ballot may not be denied or impaired when the need for assistance is apparent or is known to the election board or any member thereof, but the election board may require a registered voter to sign a statement that he or she requires assistance in casting a vote by reason of a physical disability or an inability to read or write English when the need for assistance is not apparent or no member of the election board has knowledge thereof. The statement must be executed under penalty of perjury.

4.  In addition to complying with the requirements of this section, the county clerk and election board officer shall, upon the request of a registered voter with a physical disability, make reasonable accommodations to allow the voter to vote at his or her polling place.

In short an employer or an employer’s representative or a voter’s union official or voter’s representative cannot assist, but anyone else can.  It’s always a nice thing when someone accompanies a disabled voter or one who otherwise needs assistance so that the election officials don’t have to find someone, or divert someone from assisting another person.

#7.  Say “Thanks” on your way out.  Smile.

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Filed under 2012 election