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Nevada Republican-backed election bills on voter ID, moving up deadlines for voting

A roll of red, white and blue “I Voted” stickers sits sideways on a white tabletop. The background is out of focus.
Lucia Starbuck
/
KUNR Public Radio

Purple Politics Nevada is KUNR’s weekly show about the 2023 Nevada Legislative Session. In this week’s episode, host Lucia Starbuck explores Republican-backed election-related legislation requiring identification to vote and moving up the deadlines to submit a mail-in ballot and register to vote.

Click here for a transcript of the audio story.


Episode Overview

Republican Assemblyman Gregory Hafen II has sponsored a bill that would require Nevadans to show identification to vote, such as a driver’s license or tribal identification card. He’s also open to expanding the requirements to include military IDs.

Voter ID is not required in most cases in Nevada; however, it is in more than 30 states. Opposition to the bill says it could create barriers for people who don’t have easy access to getting or affording an ID, but Hafen says the bill has a solution for that.

“If anyone claims a financial hardship, they can obtain the ID for free,” Hafen said.

Voter ID is something Nevada voters on both sides of the aisle agree with. According to a poll by OH Predictive Insights and The Nevada Independent, nearly three-quarters of Nevada voters support showing identification to vote, including 62% of Democrats.

“It’s interesting as elections become a political football is that the red team has some good stuff, the blue team has some good stuff, and at the end of the day, hopefully, they can work together to ultimately come to some solutions that Nevada voters want to, you know, have that access to the ballot box but also have that security at the same time,” chief researcher Mike Noble said.

Republican State Senator Robin Titus also has several election-related bills, including moving up voting deadlines. One piece of legislation would require mail-in ballots to be postmarked by the last day of early voting. During the 2022 general election, about 500 mail-in ballots were rejected in Washoe County due to voters not curing or verifying their signatures on their ballots in time, in addition to hundreds more that were received after the state's deadline.

“There’s just not enough time for many people to go in and cure their signature, so they don’t get counted,” Titus said.

Another bill would end same-day registration, or the ability to register to vote or update registration on Election Day or during early voting. In the 2020 general election, more than 64,000 people participated in same-day registration, including Republicans, Democrats and nonpartisans. Titus also has another bill that would make the registrar of voters an elected position, which would affect Washoe County.

“I think all bills deserve a hearing, frankly. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, if somebody works hard enough and their constituents want you to bring forward a bill, that bill deserves their day in session as opposed to their day in court,” Titus said.

Listen to this week’s episode of Purple Politics Nevada with Lucia Starbuck to hear from Sen. Titus and Assemblyman Hafen on why they’re putting these election bills forward. Make sure to tune in next week to hear from Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar.


Transcript

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC BEGINS)

LUCIA STARBUCK, HOST: Welcome to Purple Politics Nevada. I’m your host, Lucia Starbuck. The name reflects the fact that Nevada isn’t red or blue — it’s both. This week we’re exploring Republican-backed election-related bills. Republican Assemblyman Gregory Hafen II has one bill that requires voters to show identification to vote, such as a driver’s license or tribal ID. He’s open to expanding that to military ID.

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC ENDS)

(SOUNDBITE OF GREGORY HAFEN): I don’t want to disenfranchise anyone, and so I am open to the military. Somebody asked about college ID, and you have a lot of out-of-state individuals that have college IDs, and so I think that that becomes too burdensome for the election officials.

STARBUCK: Voter ID is not required in most cases in Nevada, as it is in more than 30 other states. Opposition says it could create barriers for people who don’t have easy access to getting or affording an ID, like seniors, low-income folks, and communities of color. Hafen says the bill has a solution for that.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAFEN): If anyone claims a financial hardship, they can obtain the ID for free.

STARBUCK: His bill also wants to enforce punishment on the books for voter fraud. So far, one person has been convicted from the 2020 election in Nevada. Although it’s a felony, that individual took a plea deal for a misdemeanor and did not serve time.

(SOUNDBITE OF HAFEN): I don’t think that that’s right. And I think our laws need to be tightened up.

STARBUCK: Voter ID is something Nevada voters on both sides of the aisle agree with. According to a poll by OH Predictive Insights and The Nevada Independent, nearly three-quarters of Nevada voters support showing ID to vote, including 62% of Democrats, explains chief researcher Mike Noble.

(SOUNDBITE OF MIKE NOBLE): It’s interesting as elections become a political football is that the red team has some good stuff, the blue team has some good stuff, and at the end of the day, hopefully, they can work together to ultimately come to some solutions that Nevada voters want to, you know, have that access to the ballot box but also have that security at the same time.

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC BEGINS)

STARBUCK: I’m Lucia Starbuck, and you’re listening to Purple Politics Nevada. We’ve been talking about a bill to require showing ID to vote. Republican State Senator Robin Titus has several election-related bills, too.

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC ENDS)

STARBUCK: Senator Titus, let’s start with mail-in ballots. One piece of your legislation would change the deadline for when mail-in ballots must be returned.

ROBIN TITUS: I think it’s the most important election bill that we will bring forward and probably one that has the best chance of getting passed. I don’t wanna take anybody’s right away to vote. My bill does not change when you can drop them off. If you’re gonna mail it, you have to mail it by the end of that election early voting date. What we found out is a significant number of folks did not get those ballots back in time. Even worse, the reality is that signature cure, when they mail that ballot in, if they don’t recognize their signature, they are contacted, and they have to cure that signature. There’s just not enough time for many people to go in and cure their signature, so they don’t get counted.

STARBUCK: Another bill would also move up the deadline for registering to vote. It would end same-day registration, right?

TITUS: Right, and that bill, that’s SB 157, and that bill primary sponsor was not me, although I definitely co-sponsored it. People move around a lot, you know, we don’t move very much around here in the rural areas, but in urban areas, they move all the time. So making sure people register in time.

STARBUCK: In the 2020 general election, more than 64,000 people participated in same-day registration, and it was broken down about a third of Democrats, Republicans, and nonpartisans. What would you wanna say to them if you were to take back that option?

TITUS: If you’re registering on the day of election, I’m not so convinced that you’re an informed voter. So, hopefully, you take some time, do some research, register ahead of time. Now that’s different if you show up and you don’t see that you’re registered, and you think you are, so when you go to vote, you can actually do a provisional ballot to make sure that you can qualify. So, we have a lot of options for folks in Nevada to register.

STARBUCK: You’re also sponsoring a bill to make the registrar of voters an elected position.

TITUS: Our concern is that if the registrars are appointed, which they are in Washoe and Clark County, they’re appointed by the county commissioners, so they’re not responsible to the people – they’re responsible to the people who hired them.

STARBUCK: Are you concerned this office could become partisan?

TITUS: We already have our secretary of state, which is a partisan office. The secretary’s job then, once elected, is to make sure everybody gets a chance to vote, and that would be the same as the registrar. All the other 15 out of 17 counties have them as an elected position. Now, could they be nonpartisan positions like the sheriff’s department and the judges? I certainly would accept that as an amendment.

STARBUCK: This bill didn’t get a hearing last session. How are you feeling this session?

TITUS: I’m working it hard to get a hearing. I think all bills deserve a hearing, frankly. Whatever side of the aisle you are on, if somebody works hard enough and their constituents want you to bring forward a bill, that bill deserves their day in session as opposed to their day in court.

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC BEGINS)

STARBUCK: That was Republican State Senator Robin Titus. Thanks so much for listening. Tune in next Friday to hear from Nevada Democratic Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar. I’m Lucia Starbuck, and you’ve been listening to Purple Politics Nevada.

(UPBEAT JAZZ MUSIC ENDS)

The theme song, “Vibe Ace” by Kevin MacLeod, is licensed under Creative Commons and was edited for this episode.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show <i>Purple Politics Nevada</i>. 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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Purple Politics Nevada is produced by KUNR’s Lucia Starbuck. Vicki Adame is the show’s editor, and Crystal Willis is the digital editor. Zoe Malen designed the show’s logo.