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5 actions states can take to protect elections. Is Nevada on board?

Updated January 12, 2024 - 2:31 pm

The 2024 presidential election is less than a year away, and experts are making several recommendations for how states can take extra protections for their elections.

The Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law, a nonpartisan law and policy institute, published five actions states must take to keep election fair and accurate with its report, “How States Can Prevent Election Subversion in 2024 and Beyond.”

These are the five actions states must take, and how Nevada is faring with them:

1. Strengthen laws requiring timely certification based solely on verified vote totals.

Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said the law is clear about the timelines and certification process for elections.

Mail ballots can be counted starting 15 days before the day of the election, and all mail ballots must be counted on or before the seventh day following the election.

On the fourth Tuesday of November after each general election, the justices of the Supreme Court must meet with the secretary of state and shall open a state-level canvass and certify the election results, which then become official and are published, according to state law.

2. Strengthen laws channeling election disputes through the state judiciary.

Under this point, the Brennan Center’s report also says states should specify a narrow set of grounds for disqualifying ballots to protect voters from ballot rejection. The center said Nevada did this with Assembly Bill 321 in 2021, the sweeping election bill that outlined the universal mail-in ballot system.

It also says states should set a cutoff date after Election Day for receiving and counting mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day, which Nevada has. Mail ballots must be postmarked by Election Day and can be received up to four days later.

3. Finalize a plan for putting out accurate information about the election process and preempting disinformation, starting well before Election Day and backed by adequate state resources.

The Nevada secretary of state and county clerks publish election information on their websites, but Aguilar is figuring out where people receive their information and dispersing information through that, from traditional media to YouTube.

He also is working with the Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy, which includes nine appointed Nevadans from different political backgrounds and regions, to disperse information about the election.

4. Bolster election administration with training, written guidance, and investment in equipment, security, scenario planning, staffing and supplies.

Senate Bill 54, which Gov. Joe Lombardo approved June 15, requires the secretary of state to prepare and publish an elections procedures manual at least once every two years to ensure uniformity, correctness, efficiency and impartiality in the procedures, and it requires county and city clerks to comply with the manual.

Mark Wlaschin, deputy secretary of state for elections, speaks with the 17 clerks across the state every two weeks and has coalesced them to create the election procedures manual, Aguilar said. Eleven of the 17 clerks are new, Aguilar said, so they depend on accurate information and understanding the statute.

The state’s Voter Registration and Election Management Solution project also will be helpful in making sure everyone is on the same page. It has a top-down voter registration system that will make sure voter rolls are accurate.

5. Enact stronger measures against intimidation of voters and election workers, including gun restrictions and privacy protections for election officials.

The Nevada Legislature passed Aguilar’s election worker protection bill, which makes it a felony to harass or intimidate an election worker. The next step is talking with the sheriffs and the attorney general’s office to make sure everyone understands the bill and the enforcement, Aguilar said. That law is undergoing legal challenges.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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