Explaining Nevada’s Broken “Bottom-Up” Election System

(Chuck Muth) – One of the bigger challenges in cleaning up the voter rolls in Nevada is a misunderstanding of exactly who is in charge of what.  And it’s the difference between a bottom-up system and a top-down.

In the current system, all voter registration data is collected at the county level and then fed up to the Secretary of State’s office for the purpose of establishing a statewide voter database.

The office is in the process of switching that around.  Incoming SOS Cisco Aguilar is asking the Nevada Legislature for $30 million to speed up the process.

“Having voter registration data handled at the state level will also help automatically update information instantaneously,” the Las Vegas Sun reports Aguilar said.  “So if someone changes their address or submits paperwork to another state agency, they can scrape that information to update the voter roll.”

This is important when communicating with the public about this issue.

Too many people have incorrectly blamed the Secretary of State’s office for things such as removing dead voters or voters who have permanently moved out of state when that responsibility actually falls in the laps of county clerks and registrars of voters.

Until Nevada fully transitions to a top-down voter database system, folks interested in working on cleaning up the voter rolls need to focus at the county level.

In 15 of Nevada’s 17 counties, the county clerk is elected.  In Clark and Washoe counties, the registrar of voters is appointed by the county commission.  As of today, that position remains vacant in Clark County.  The new registrar should be appointed anytime now.

Those working to clean up the voter lists need to work cooperatively with county election officials, not treat them as the enemy right out of the gate.

There are plenty of areas of election conduct in which folks may be in an adversarial relationship – on issues such as voter ID, vote harvesting, drop boxes, signature verification, meaningful observation, chains of custody, etc.

But cleaning the voter rolls so that only legally eligible “Active” voters are mailed a ballot is comparatively non-controversial and non-partisan.  It’s the one issue in election security in which competing parties can agree.

That’s not to say it’ll be smooth sailing.  I expect there will be challenges in getting some county election officials to clean their files based on information collected by Pigpen Project volunteers.  But we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.

If you want to be active and vocal on this issue, it’s imperative to make sure you know what you’re talking about.  You need to know the system.  You need to understand the process.  You need to read the law…both federal and state.

When you criticize the Secretary of State’s office for something it has no control over, or is prohibited from doing by law, you only undermine our effort’s credibility with public.  And if we’re ever to get meaningful changes enacted by elected officials, it’s gonna be critical to win the case in the court of public opinion.

If you’re gonna make an accusation that a dead person voted, you better be darned sure you’re not making a false allegation.  Election integrity issues in Nevada have gotten a rap with the public because the boy cried wolf too many times when they couldn’t proved a wolf was snatching chickens.

Verify.  Verify.  Verify.


“Fewer than 530,000 voters returned a mail ballot (in Nevada’s 2022 general election). But ballots were sent to almost all of the state’s more than 1.8 million registered voters. You don’t have to claim there’s widespread fraud to point out that 1 million ballots floating around isn’t a best case for election security.” – Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial

Mr. Muth is president of Citizen Outreach, publisher of Nevada News & Views, and founder of CampaignDoctor.com.  You can sign up for his conservative, Nevada-focused e-newsletter at MuthsTruths.com.  His views are his own.


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