New election laws impact Nevada voters
Imagine not having to meet various deadlines to register to vote in Nevada. Instead, during early voting or even on Election Day, you can register and vote all at the same time.
”And they are also going to be able to register to vote online from home during the early voting period and then go to the polling place and case a ballot,” says Wayne Thorley, Nevada Deputy Secretary of State for Elections.
Same-day registration is just one of the many new laws Nevada's Secretary of State must contend with before the presidential election in 2020.
The office is working on ways to connect the same-day registration, probably online, confirm it and place it in the system along with the votes cast.
Thorley says on the local level it will mean a call for more poll workers. Voters can anticipate longer lines.
On the downside, because as many as 30,000 to 40,000 Nevadans could take advantage of same-day voting, results from the elections may take longer to announce.
Those ballots will be considered provisional on election night, and will be verified and counted over the course of several days.
“So on election night, we will post unofficial results as usual,” says Thorley. “But those results will be missing all the provisional ballots that are cast by the same-day registrants. And as those are verified, and counted, we will update the results over that ten-day period.” At ten days, election results need to be certified under state law.
All this has ramifications in close elections.
A voter initiative passed in 2018 implementing automatic registration at DMV offices is also in the works.
“An electronic data transfer process. We are currently working with the DMV and the county election officials to develop this and we will have it in place at the beginning of 2020,” says Thorley.
In Washoe County, elections officials have already implemented "Vote Centers" where residents can vote at locations outside their precincts.
New laws require each county to have at least one of these centers.
In the past, Nevada voters would have to apply for absentee ballots each election cycle. Another new law now allows voters apply for a permanent absentee ballot.
Once approved, a ballot will be automatically mailed to the voter for all elections where the resident can legally cast a vote.
More than 70,000 ex-convicts will also be able to register and vote in the 2020 election under a new law. These men and women had to jump through a lot of hoops before regaining their right to vote in Nevada. But as of July 1, 2019 that has all changed.
“They can register online, they can register on a paper registration form, they can use any of the currently available means to register to vote,” says Thorley. “And that restoration to vote is automatic and immediate upon the person's release from prison,” he says.