Lombardo targets mail ballots, wants voter ID
Republican Gov. Joe Lombardo introduced legislation Monday that would make sweeping changes to Nevada’s election process, including repealing universal mail-in voting, requiring an ID to vote and moving up the deadline for completed mail ballots to be received.
If passed, Senate Bill 405 would undo election-related legislation passed by the 2021 Legislature and signed by Lombardo’s Democratic predecessor, Steve Sisolak, that expanded voting access and led to the state receiving an “A” grade on its election report card from the Institute for Responsive Government.
“Governor Lombardo submitted SB 405 as part of his ongoing promise to fight for common sense election reforms in Nevada,” said Elizabeth Ray, Lombardo’s spokeswoman. “SB 405 will help restore faith and timeliness in our election system, so that every Nevadan has confidence that our voting process is free and fair.”
The bill would:
— Repeal the law that automatically sends a mail ballot to every active registered voter in the state, which was first implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic but later made permanent. In order to vote by mail, a voter would have to request a mail ballot.
— Require a government-issued photo ID to vote in person. The DMV would be required to issue a voter ID card for free to voters who attest they are unable to afford the fee. Voters who use mail ballots would be required the last four digits of their Social Security number, drivers license number or voter ID card number, which would be concealed by a flap.
In general, Democrats and voting rights organizations are against provisions requiring an ID to vote, arguing that it would restrict voting access. An October 2022 Gallup poll, however, found that eight in 10 Americans favor requiring a photo ID to vote.
— Moving up the mail-ballot deadline so they would have to be received by Election Day. (Currently, mail ballots must only be postmarked by Election Day, and can be received up to four days later. The goal of the earlier deadline would be to get results more quickly, rather than having to wait a week after the election.
— Requires so-called ballot harvesters who return mail ballots on behalf of people other than family members to submit an affidavit and a report to the secretary of state that includes the names of all voters for whom the person is carrying ballots. There would be a limit of 30 ballots per ballot harvester.
Nevada Democrats blasted Lombardo for introducing the legislation, claiming he was trying to “score political points with MAGA extremists” by instilling doubts in the security of Nevada’s elections.
Voting by mail is popular, with more than half of Nevada voters casting their ballots through mail in 2022, the Nevada Democratic Party said in a statement. There is also no evidence of widespread voter fraud, despite charges from former President Donald Trump of a stolen election in 2020.
“Not even halfway through the Legislative session, Governor Lombardo is making his priorities clear: rolling back voting rights,” said Nevada State Democratic Party Chair Daniele Monroe-Moreno in a statement. “Lombardo is more concerned with scoring political points by emboldening election deniers than giving Nevadans a voice at the ballot box.”
The secretary of state’s office said officials are still reviewing the legislation.