Nevada Legislature votes to make universal mail-in voting permanent

490

The win for voting rights comes amid a GOP effort to make it harder to vote absentee.

The Democrat-led Nevada state Senate voted along party lines on Monday to permanently expand voting by mail in the state, the Nevada Independent reported. The bill heads to Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak next. If signed, Nevada will become the sixth state in the country to vote almost entirely by mail.

The bill — which passed the state Assembly on Wednesday — requires election officials to send every active voter a ballot "not later than 14 days before an election." Voters who do not want to vote by mail can opt out and vote in person.

The legislation bucks the trend of state legislatures restricting the use of absentee ballots following Donald Trump's lies that the voting method is rife with fraud.

An analysis by the Brennan Center for Justice released on Friday found that 14 states had passed 22 laws that make it harder to vote — with dozens more voter suppression bills still moving through 18 other state legislatures.

Trump has falsely claimed that voting by mail benefits Democrats, saying ahead of the 2020 election that moving to an all-mail election system would mean that, "you'd never have a Republican elected in this country again."

But a recent study from the Public Policy Institute of California found that while absentee voting did increase turnout, it did not benefit Democrats over Republicans.

Nevada had moved to a largely vote-by-mail system in the 2020 election, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump's campaign sued the state to try to block Sisolak from mailing every active registered voter a ballot. But that lawsuit failed, with a federal judge dismissing it, saying that the Trump campaign's claims that the method would lead to fraud was "speculative" and did not prove that there was a "substantial risk" of fraud by adopting a universal vote-by-mail system.

This new legislation now makes the shift to mail-in voting permanent.

The bill was sponsored by Democratic state Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson, who said in March that the legislation gives voters more "freedom."

"No one has to vote by mail, no one has to use a drop box. People, if they want to vote in person, still can," Frierson said at the time.

The move to permanently expand voting by mail comes after Nevada saw historic turnout in the 2020 election, with 77% of registered voters casting ballots — 48% of whom voted by mail, according to data from the Nevada Secretary of State.

President Joe Biden carried the state by roughly 2.5%.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.