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KUNR Today: Washoe Co. election reform proposal may be on agenda soon, Local COVID-19 cases plummet

On the left, people wait in line inside of a building to participate in early voting. In the center of the image, there’s a sign that says “Voter Entrance.”
Lucia Starbuck
Our Town Reno
An early voting site at the Washoe County Library System location in downtown Reno, Nev., in October 2018.

Read or listen to the morning news headlines for Thursday, March 3, 2022.

Washoe County election reform proposal could be discussed later this month
By Lucia Starbuck

A controversial proposal for election reforms in Washoe County could make its way back for discussion by the end of the month.

Commissioner Jeanne Herman previously put forth the recommendations. They included changes, such as returning to paper ballots for the most part and requiring Nevada National Guard members at polls. Herman told the Reno Gazette-Journal the resolution has since been updated to swap guard members with sheriff’s deputies. The sweeping proposal was pulled back from the agenda initially due to concerns about violating open meeting laws.

In a statement, Washoe County said the reforms will be reviewed to see what the commissioners can legally do, along with the potential financial impacts. The proposal says the goal is to reduce voter fraud. A report published after the 2020 election by the Nevada Secretary of State says there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

Lucia Starbuck is a corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project.

New Nevada law means all registered voters will get a mail-in ballot unless they opt out
By Lucia Starbuck

Under a new Nevada law, all registered voters in the state will receive a mail-in ballot. The law kicks off ahead of the 2022 midterm, and it will be in place for the following elections; however, for Nevadans who want to vote in person, the deadline to opt out of getting a mail-in ballot is April 15. If you miss that date, don’t worry, Washoe County Registrar of Voters Deanna Spikula explained.

“They’ll still be mailed the ballot for that election. They still may go and vote in person; they still have that option. It’s just that that opt-out form won’t go into effect until after the current election,” Spikula said.

The new law also requires mail-in ballots to be postmarked by 5 p.m. on Election Day and received within four business days after the election. Candidates can officially file to run starting next week.

The form to opt out of receiving a mail-in ballot can be found here.

Washoe County COVID-19 cases at lowest level since summer
By Lucia Starbuck

COVID-19 cases in Washoe County have hit their lowest level since July.

There’s been an average of nearly 40 COVID-19 cases per day over the last week. That number was over 500 one month ago. Washoe County Health District Officer Kevin Dick said things are starting to look better.

“It’s kind of mind-numbing that in January, around January 20 or so, we were reporting 1,700 new cases a day that were happening,” Dick said.

Washoe County and Carson City have the second-highest vaccination rate in the state, with nearly 65% of residents five years and older fully vaccinated.

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccinations in Nevada, COVID-19 testing, or view the state COVID-19 dashboard.

UNLV Boyd School of Law opens immigration advocacy office 
By Lucia Starbuck

UNLV’s William S. Boyd School of Law is opening a new immigration advocacy office in downtown Las Vegas. The clinic will provide free legal services and legal defense for adults and unaccompanied children facing deportation. Law students are able to get real-world experiences as well.

A new Nevada law earmarked $500,000 over two years for the clinic. The Clark County Commission matched those funds.

More than 270 people have faced deportation in Las Vegas without representation since fiscal year 2021, according to UNLV.

Sheriff’s Office: Officer fatally shoots person at business
By The Associated Press

Authorities say a law enforcement officer fatally shot an armed person during an encounter at a business in Wellington in southeastern Lyon County.

The county Sheriff’s Office says the incident occurred Monday after sheriff’s deputies and officers from the Yerington Police Department and the Nevada State Police responded to reports of a person armed with a gun at Rosie’s Place Restaurant and Mini-Market on Highway 208.

The identity of the person killed wasn’t released and a Sheriff’s Office statement on the incident didn’t say what prompted the shooting or provide the affiliation of the officer involved in the shooting.

Police: Man held in lounge shooting that killed 1, hurt 13
By The Associated Press

Police say a 44-year-old man has been arrested on murder and attempted murder charges in a weekend shooting that left one man dead and 13 people wounded at a hookah lounge east of the Las Vegas Strip.

Records showed Tuesday that Lee Frank Wilson was arrested Monday. He remains jailed pending an initial court appearance Wednesday. In a statement, police called the investigation ongoing and said additional arrests are expected. The shooting has been described as an exchange of gunfire involving people at a private party.

The dead man has been identified as 33-year-old Demetreus Beard. Police said two other people had critical injuries.

Washoe County Health District receives $75,000 to screen women in jail for syphilis
By Lucia Starbuck

The Washoe County Health District was awarded up to $75,000 to screen women in local jails for syphilis, an infection typically spread through sexual contact. The funding is from the National Association of County and City Health Officials.

According to preliminary data from the CDC, rates of congenital syphilis increased in 2020 compared to 2019. Congenital syphilis is when a person who is pregnant and has syphilis passes it to their baby through birth. It’s preventable through treatment. The disease disproportionately affects American Indian and Alaska Native mothers, along with Pacific Islander and African American moms.

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