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NEVADA VIEWS: Governor’s elect reform ideas make sense

Gov. Joe Lombardo is right. It’s time to update Nevada’s election laws.

Nevada should be up-to-speed with a timely and secure election process, following the lead of other states that experienced much higher midterm turnout than Nevada — most notably Florida and Georgia. Nevadans deserve to have trust in our vote-counting system, and Nevadans deserve to know who won on election night.

The Republicans of the Nevada Assembly have prepared bills to meet the governor’s goal of streamlined, modern and secure elections. This session, Assemblyman Gregory Hafen will present a bill that makes photo ID a requirement to vote in Nevada. Assemblyman Ken Gray has prepared a bill that requires that ballots, to be counted, must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Election Day. Assemblyman Thaddeus Yurek’s bill calls for an election investigation unit to search for and expose any fraud. Assemblywomen Jill Dickman, Heidi Kasama and Alexis Hansen will also present bills to increase election integrity in Nevada.

According to polls, around 80 percent of Americans are in favor of requiring photo identification to vote. Despite the popularity of photo ID requirements, Nevada Democrats continue to harp on voter suppression rhetoric, saying that voting should be as “convenient as possible” and therefore we shouldn’t require voters to present identification. But we agree with Gov. Lombardo: “We require people to have a valid form of ID to get on a plane, to operate a motor vehicle or to purchase alcohol and cigarettes, but to not to cast a vote in an election. This is illogical.”

Under such reforms, voting in Nevada would be easy, accessible and secure. All Nevadans would be able to vote by presenting a driver’s license and requesting a ballot, whether by mail or in person on Election Day. This would mitigate any chance of fraud or election interference and increase voter confidence in our elections.

This would bring Nevada in line with some of the states that have much higher voter turnout. In Georgia, for example, mail-in ballots are not indiscriminately sent to every single registered voter, voters are not automatically registered upon visiting the DMV and ballot harvesting is illegal. To receive an absentee ballot in Georgia, voters must present ID. Rather than suppress the vote as Democrats claim, these policies have been met with increased voter trust and voter turnout over the years.

Georgia’s turnout in 2022 was 52.7 percent, and Nevada was 45.2 percent, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Despite Joe Biden’s radical claim that Georgia’s secure election laws are a “Jim Crow 2.0” of voter suppression, the University of Georgia found that African American voters in Georgia overwhelmingly approved of Georgia’s election laws and voting system. Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida recently created a new police unit to combat election fraud, but again, this heightened security was met with higher voter turnout and participation in early and mail voting.

But for Nevada Democrats, progress means relying on understaffed county registrars to tediously perform signature verification, spending $14 million mailing ballots to nearly 1 million people who did not ask for them and did not end up voting, and allowing anyone to harvest and turn in as many ballots as they please without ever showing an ID. Victor Joecks of the Review Journal has shown, in two elections now, that the Clark County registrar failed to set aside mismatched signatures more than half the time.

To be frank, it seems that the Democrats are still stuck in the COVID-19 Dark Ages while Republicans are fighting to update and streamline Nevada’s election laws.

Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, D-Las Vegas, recently said that these election reforms would be a “non-starter” for the Democrats and that they refuse to scale back any of the mail-in voting policies implemented during the pandemic. In his response to the governor’s State of the State, Yeager doubled-down on the notion that voting should be as convenient as possible in Nevada. But is it “convenient” to wait for election results for a week after Election Day? Should we allow Nevada to be a national, and international embarrassment every two years, as we take weeks to deliver election results for the sake of “convenience”?

We believe that a secure and transparent voting process will strengthen voters’ faith in the system, which will increase voter participation. Nevada ought to be a state that wins praise for its streamlined elections, not a state that is forever stuck in the year 2020.

P.K. O’Neill, R-Carson City, is a member of the Nevada Assembly. Republican Assembly members Jill Dickman, Rich DeLong and Danielle Gallant also contributed to this essay, which first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal.

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