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Nevada Governor’s office defends election reform plan despite lack of Democratic support

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Zoe Malen
KUNR Public Radio
Nevada State Capitol

Nevada Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo’s Chief of Staff held a briefing with reporters in Carson City on Wednesday to speak about the six pieces of legislation the office is backing, including a proposed bill on election reforms.

Senate Bill 405 aims to make several changes to elections. It would require voters to show ID when voting, including providing their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their social security number when they cast a mail-in ballot. It also requires the DMV to issue voter identification cards free of charge to voters who need them. Voters would also have to opt-in instead of automatically receiving a mail-in ballot. And it moves up the deadline for when mail-in ballots must be returned.

Democrats argue requiring voter ID can cause barriers for people who can’t easily obtain them, and they say universal mail-in ballots make voting easier, but the governor’s Chief of Staff, Ben Kieckhefer, disagrees.

“I disagree with the presumption that we're doing anything that makes voting difficult,” Kieckhefer said, “Having unlimited access to a mail ballot, two weeks of early voting, Election Day voting, absentee ballots if you're out of state, any avenue that a person could need to cast a ballot is available to them. The assertion that somehow this is making it difficult to vote, is patently absurd.”

Nearly three-quarters of Nevada voters support showing ID to vote, including 62% of Democrats, according to an early February poll by O.H. Predictive Insights and The Nevada Independent.

Following Lombardo’s State of the State address, the Democratic leadership said the governor’s election reforms were a nonstarter. Democrats have the majority in both houses. In spite of this, Keickhefer says they’re working hard to pass the legislation.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.
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