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Politics and Policy

#NVLeg Week 4: Hope You Like Talking About Elections

Nevada Legislators sit masked in tiered seating.
David Calvert
The Nevada Independent
Senate Majority Leader Nicole J. Cannizzaro on the fourth day of the 81st session of the Nevada Legislature in Carson City on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Election reform is shaping up to become the signature issue of Nevada's 81st legislative session. Among the measures up for consideration is a Republican bill that would gut the state's emergency mail-in voting law, among other changes. Democrats, on the other hand, say they're looking to make those mail-in ballots permanent. KUNR’s Noah Glick spoke with Political Editor Paul Boger about the latest from Carson City.

NOAH GLICK: So let's talk about this election reform. Break down those two proposals for me.

PAUL BOGER: Sure. So you've got the Republican proposal, which comes from Assemblywoman Jill Dickman. She represents most of Sparks there.

That proposal would gut what is known as AB4. That is the bill that was passed by lawmakers in the special session last summer that moved Nevada to that mail-in ballot that we saw in the general election. That was supposed to be a temporary bill. Under the language of that law, ballots would be sent in times of emergency. If a governor declares an emergency, ballots would be sent to voters.

The Democratic proposal would essentially make those changes permanent.

The Republican bill is a little bit different in that it also adds [a] voter ID requirement. It would require blockchains to monitor how people cast ballots and track their voting registration. It looks to really add that security level that we've heard Republicans worry about over the last few months.

Republican Robin Titan, she says, these arguments that Republicans pushing for voting restrictions are purely political. She says they're worried about voter security.

ROBIN TITUS: “We must listen to non-partisan election professionals and not acquiesce to the partisan playbook being imposed on us as a progressive proof of concept model, the West Coast.”

GLICK: Now, Paul we've also heard Titus and other Republicans talk about voter confidence. There are a large number of voters out there who believe the election was either fraudulent or at least handled poorly. So what can Democrats do to repair that trust in the election process?

BOGER: That's a really good question. When Democrats passed AB4, it was in that special session. It was very similar to this legislative session, behind closed doors. That bill has also passed late at night. It was controversial. No one had seen the language until the measure was already up for consideration. So that bill was considered controversial. Of course, you have former President Trump spouting fraud in the election. His followers and his supporters believing his word over the evidence. So it is going to take some trust. It is going to take some work rebuilding that trust. Speaker of the Assembly Jason Frierson says he realizes that, and it's going to take work.

JASON FRIERSON: “I think that we absolutely have to take into account that there are some people who are, I believe, misled with false information about fraudulent activity, but we have to take that into account. And it's real. And I think it would not be wise to not take it serious[ly] and embark on an effort to educate the public about how safe and secure it is, how successful it's been in other states for years.”

GLICK: We've been talking about elections quite a bit. Let's move on. What else is going on in Carson City right now?

BOGER: So lawmakers, staff, press, were all being vaccinated this week. It's a positive step in that it may open the building sooner. That is something that a lot of folks were pushing for. We’ve actually seen a lawsuit trying to move through the system to make that building open.

Of course, there's a slower start, but as [Speaker] Frierson pointed out in that same press conference, they're being methodical. They're going to write the language that they need to write in the legal department and get things done.

Some of the bills that are coming up, you've got a dark sky sanctuary bill that would codify that into law, making sure that Nevada's beautiful, dark skies are protected, E-sports regulation, a bill to strengthen wildfire arson penalties [and] an E.R.A. amendment, securing an equal rights amendment here in Nevada’s constitution. So, lawmakers are looking at a number of bills including banning summary evictions.

So lawmakers are working. They are going through bills. Still, it’s just not quite the volume we're used to seeing.

GLICK: Paul Boger is KUNR’s Political Editor. Paul, thank you so much for joining us to give us the latest from Carson.

BOGER: Thanks, Noah.

KUNR's Jayden Perez adapted this story for the web.

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