As Republican-run states look to suppress the vote, Nevada proposes expanding voter access.
A bill is being drafted in Nevada that would mandate that an absentee ballot be sent to every registered voter in the state for every election.
The proposed bill appears to have support from the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Nevada's lower legislative chamber, Jason Frierson, who told station KTVN in Reno, "Nevada's about freedom and having choices and respecting those choices so this is an option."
The state saw success with mail-in voting in 2020, which it implemented in response to the pandemic, with more than 77% of registered voters participating in the election, according to data from the Nevada secretary of state.
A spokesperson for Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) did not immediately return a request for comment on whether he supports the use of universal absentee ballots in future elections.
But the Democratic-controlled Legislature's consideration of expanding voting rights is in stark contrast to Republican-run states that have introduced hundreds of voter suppression bills in recent weeks.
Republicans in Georgia introduced a bill this week that would restrict the use of mail-in ballots to those who have an approved excuse. Currently, any registered voter is allowed to receive an absentee ballot if they request one.
Nevada Republicans are against the expansion of absentee voting, taking their cues from Donald Trump — who went on a crusade against voting by mail ahead of the 2020 election and falsely claimed that it led to the election being stolen from him.
"Universal mail-in voting and ballot harvesting will further degrade a fragile civic trust already shared by millions of people in the state of Nevada," said Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus.
Republican opposition to voting by mail is a relatively new trend. Trump claimed voting by mail benefits Democrats, which is why he railed against its expanded use in 2020. However, data shows that voting by mail does not give an advantage to either party.
But voting by mail can increase turnout in elections by making it easier to vote, according to a study conducted by the National Vote at Home Institute and released in May 2020, as states were looking to expand absentee voting during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study found that turnout increases are especially notable "among lower-propensity voting groups, such as young people, blue-collar workers, voters with less educational attainment, and voters of color."
As for Nevada, it's 77% turnout rate in the general election was the same as 2016's turnout — even though it took place in the middle of a global pandemic.
According to data from the Nevada secretary of state, 48% of those who voted in the 2020 election used an absentee ballot.
Other states are considering expanding the use of absentee ballots.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on Election Day 2020 that the state might permanently move to mailing ballots to all registered voters.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.