by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Nevada’s new automatic mail-in voting law is only the latest ballot systems change that has the potential to complicate the November election.
With less than three months until the election, the rapid changes are likely to prompt legal battles and election delays that could not only frustrate the public but undermine public confidence in the process.
In the wake of fears that the coronavirus pandemic could endanger public health at the polls, Democratic Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak signed a bill into law on Monday that dramatically expands mail-in voting in the state, including sending every registered voter a mail-in ballot, rather than requiring voters to request one.
The Trump campaign filed a lawsuit on Wednesday in hopes of stopping the legislation, arguing that it is unconstitutional.
Part of the concern with mail-in voting has to do with its potential for voter fraud, which has historically been a statistically insignificant problem.
“I’m particularly concerned that there’s been the push for vote-by-mail with the demand that it be automatic, so ballots get sent automatically to all voter registrations, and then you do away with election safeguards that help to combat fraud,” said Jason Snead, the executive director of Honest Elections. “What Nevada did was not only will they be automatically mailing ballots, but they will also be legalizing vote harvesting.”
“Vote harvesting” is the practice of allowing individuals other than the voter to fill out and return his or her ballot. The laws have varying levels of flexibility from state to state, but the new Nevada law allows voters to designate any person to return the ballot.
The practice led to one of the most well-known cases of voter fraud when a Republican operative turned in so many false ballots for a North Carolina congressional candidate that the election had to be done over.