Clerks, voters dealing with numerous election law changes
CARSON CITY, Nev. – The 2021 Legislature made dozens of changes in how Nevada conducts elections this coming year, the impacts of which Nevada’s election officials are still sorting out.
Mark Wlaschin, elections deputy in the Secretary of State’s office, said a total of 10 pieces of legislation were approved and signed by Gov. Steve Sisolak. One key rule that remains from the last election cycle is that every active registered voter will receive a mail-in ballot in both the primary and general election unless he or she opts out.
The “opt out” or mail ballot preference form he said is on the secretary’s website at http://www.sosnv.gov or at http://www.carson.org/elections. That form must be submitted at least 60 days before the primary, which would be by April 15, and by Sept. 9 for the general election. Voters can also ask to permanently opt out of receiving a mail-in ballot.
On the Carson City website, click on mail ballots then on the mail ballot preference form. (https://www.carson.org/government/departments-a-f/clerk-recorder/elections-department/absent-ballots)
Voters can also register to vote anytime including on election day but Carson City Clerk/Recorder Aubrey Rowlatt warned the lines that day may be long.
In addition, voters who register that late will vote a provisional ballot instead of a full ballot.
During the last election, the first-time mail-in ballots were sent to every active voter, some people reported receiving more than one ballot or ballots for former residents of their address. Wlaschin said when a second ballot is sent to a residence, the barcode on the first ballot is automatically canceled.
Some people received ballots intended for prior residents of the address. Most people tore them up, but Wlaschin said that just perpetuates the problem. He requested that anyone getting ballots at their residence that aren’t for them print “Return to Sender. Not at this address” on the envelope. That way the ballot will get back to the clerk and the issue will get fixed.
Both he and Rowlatt say the most important thing they can tell voters right now is to check their registration to ensure the address is correct.
For those who have already visited the Department of Motor Vehicles, they said voters should also check their party registration. Originally, the new DMV voter registration would automatically seek to register customers to vote but if they didn’t specify a political party, it would put them in the nonpartisan list.
Rowlett said that could make for very angry voters who, for example, had been Republican or Democrat for years but this cycle receive a nonpartisan ballot. She said Carson City is making the effort to ensure voters stay registered with the party of their choice so that doesn’t happen.
Wlaschin said the state also found a “work around” to make sure that doesn’t happen. But he said some people have already gone through the DMV process and may have been converted to nonpartisan without their knowledge.
Both urged voters to check their registration and make sure the address and party affiliation are correct. Check your registration at https://www.nvsos.gov/votersearch/.
The General Election date next year is Nov. 8. The primary date again changed as it has for several cycles.
The primary will be held June 14. Early voting for the primary runs from May 28 and ends June 10. The polls will be closed Memorial Day.
Early voting for the General Election runs Oct. 22 through Nov. 4 and the polls will be open Nevada Day.
People who receive a mail-in ballot but later decide they want to vote in person can simply bring the mail-in ballot with them to the polling place and turn it in. Those who don’t will have to sign an affidavit promising not to vote twice. Voting more than once is a felony.
Rowlatt said Carson City uses a two-step verification process to make sure the voter is who they say they are. The city had few problems in the last election. Mail-in ballots will be accepted four days after election day if they were postmarked by election day. If the postmark is illegible, ballots will be accepted for three days after the election. In Carson City, Rowlatt said if it arrives later than that, the ballot probably wasn’t cast before or on election day.
The polling place in Carson City is the Community Center. There also will be a drop box there and she said she is considering placing another drop box somewhere in Carson City.
Voters who are going to be out of town need to let the clerk’s office know because mail-in ballots cannot be forwarded. Rowlatt said her office will need something signed by the voter to accommodate their wishes.
Wlaschin said opting out of receiving a mail ballot actually saves the counties money. Ballots cost $1.46 apiece in the last election but he said that price has doubled or more this cycle.
One change sought by college students didn’t make it through the Legislature this year. Student IDs are still good for identification purposes but not for voter registration. Supporters sought the change to allow the large percentage of Nevada’s university students from neighboring states to vote.
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