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EDITORIAL: Democrat lawsuit would increase opportunities for voter fraud

Updated April 26, 2020 - 10:13 pm

Nevada Democrats are demanding Nevada’s judiciary overturn the election laws they revised last session.

In March, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske changed the June primary to a vote-by-mail election. It was a prudent response to the coronavirus crisis. No one knows what will be happening with the virus in June. Better to have people send their ballots through the mail than gather at a polling place.

Last week, both Republican and Democratic groups sued Ms. Cegavske. In particular, the Nevada Democratic Party seeks substantial changes to Nevada’s election laws by judicial fiat. Their agenda includes allowing ballot harvesting, banning signature verification and mailing ballots to inactive voters. These measures would undermine the integrity of Nevada’s election.

“Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud,” a 2005 report from the Commission on Federal Election Reform found. Former President Jimmy Carter co-chaired that bipartisan panel.

“Vote-buying schemes are far more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail,” the commission wrote. “States therefore should reduce the risks of fraud and abuse in absentee voting by prohibiting ‘third-party’ organizations, candidates and political party activists from handling absentee ballots.”

Legislative Democrats rewrote large sections of Nevada’s election laws last session. But even they maintained the prohibition on harvesting ballots. It’s a class E felony to return someone else’s ballot unless they’re a family member and they requested you return it.

This is common sense. The secret ballot is a fundamental part of maintaining election integrity. Allowing third parties to collect ballots is an invitation for unscrupulous operators to manipulate those ballots.

Democrats propose to compound that problem by ordering election officials not to perform signature verifications. That requirement, which is also in state law, provides a minimal level of assurance that the voter, not a third party, filled out the ballot. Legislative Democrats revised provisions relating to signature verification last year. Now they want a court to order election officials to ignore the law put in place by their own party.

This would be especially problematic when combined with their demand that ballots be sent to inactive voters. Every two years, election officials send out new registration cards. The Post Office reports back which voters have moved. Election officials then send a forwardable postcard seeking their new address. If no response is given, the voter is placed on inactive status. Democrats want to send thousands of ballots to wrong addresses and remove any way for election officials to verify who sent the ballots back.

Moving to an all-absentee primary was a prudent move. Imposing the demands made by Democrats would be anything but.

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