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Trust, don’t verify: How to commit voter fraud in Nevada

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump tapped Vice President Mike Pence to head up a commission on voter fraud. Pence should start his investigation right here in Nevada, where the motto of our voter registration system might as well be “Trust, don’t verify.”

Applicants must check “yes” to two questions: “Are you a citizen of the United States?” and “Will you be at least 18 years of age on or before election day?”

No proof is required. Trust, don’t verify.

Election officials rightly point out that filling out an application doesn’t immediately produce a registered voter. The potential voter’s information goes into the county’s voter registration system, which the county sends nightly to the secretary of state’s office.

The office then tries to validate the submitted driver’s license number and Social Security number. But green card holders — who aren’t citizens — can get both driver’s licenses and Social Security numbers.

Once the secretary of state confirms that the numbers match, the new voter doesn’t even need to show ID, photo or otherwise, at the polling place. A Review-Journal exposé in 2012 even revealed that then-SOS Ross Miller was mailing postcards telling non-citizens with driver’s licenses that they may be eligible to vote.

No need to present evidence of citizenship. Trust, don’t verify.

If the voter registration form is missing some of the information used to demonstrate eligibility — the person’s declaration that he or she is eligible to vote, a signature, driver’s license number or Social Security number — the information is put into a “fatal pending” status. This sounds good, until you find out about the loophole.


Per the secretary of state’s website: “If a voter does not have a valid Nevada Driver’s License/Identification Card or a Social Security Number, the voter must sign an affidavit attesting to this fact and provide alternate proof of identification and residency before being allowed to vote.” The alternative proof of identification need not prove citizenship.

Short version: Lie and you’re in. Trust, don’t verify.

Don’t blame current Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a strong supporter of election-integrity efforts, for this. She can only enforce the laws passed by lawmakers. Republicans should have passed reforms in 2015 when they controlled both houses. Unfortunately, a 2015 Republican legislator tells me, Assembly Majority Leader Paul Anderson told the caucus that Gov. Brian Sandoval wouldn’t sign a photo ID bill. Anderson calls that claim “untrue.” Photo ID failed without a floor vote.

Liberals like to mock Trump for claiming that 3 million to 5 million illegal voters cost him the popular vote, but here’s the problem: Elections aren’t a dinner theater where the cast comes out at the end and tells you whodunit and how it happened. Illegal voters commit a crime. They have every incentive to avoid detection, not brag about it.

Nevada has no way to know how many times it happened. Trust, don’t verify.

If I had to guess, I’d say that 3 million to 5 million illegal voters is high, especially since some illegal voters presumably cast their votes for Trump.

But that’s only a guess. With a “trust, don’t verify” election system, neither you nor I know for sure.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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