Fact Check: Nevada’s Election Laws are Failing Voters – Here’s How

(Chuck Muth) – I gotta tell ya, I wasn’t expecting this from the Las Vegas SUN newspaper, which is usually reliably tilted to the left side of the political spectrum.

But on Sunday it published a report by Haajrah Gilani on the unacceptably bad condition of Nevada’s voter rolls – a problem our Pigpen Project has been tackling for the past year.

In it, Haajrah noted that Michael Pruser – “a Connecticut-based elections data analyst” – partially attributes Nevada’s lower than the national average turnout for recent elections to “policies that make it more difficult to maintain voter registration lists.”

Don’t we know it!

Mr. Haajrah reports that “After tracking six years of (Nevada’s) election trends, Pruser believes Nevada is long overdue for cleaning its voter registration rolls.”

“I would consider Nevada – and Clark County specifically – to be one of the loosest voter registration lists in the country,” Mr. Pruser declared, “because they probably have hundreds of thousands of voters overall who…probably don’t even belong on the active voter list.”

Fact Check:  TRUE.

According to the article, Mr. Pruser is no “election denier” but “just feels angry with the state of Nevada” over its new mail-in ballot law which has resulted in inordinately high levels of undeliverable mail.

“In an average state, undeliverable mail for active voters is usually between 1 and 1.5%,” he told the SUN.  “But in Nevada, it’s 8%.”

To be clear, we have been working closely with the Clark County Registrar of Voters (ROV) office for the past several months on cleaning up the voter rolls.  They are NOT the problem.  The problem is the convoluted, often conflicting, laws on the books that tie the hands of these election officials.

I’ll give you an example…

Just before the June 11 primary, we submitted a dozen test “challenges” of voters who we KNOW have moved out of Nevada.  Not only have they moved, they’ve re-registered to vote in their new state AND have voted in an election in their new state.

We know this because we have access to the government’s official National Change of Address (NCOA) database provided by the post office, as well as the official government voter registration databases of a little over a dozen other states.

Nevertheless, our challenges were rejected.  Why?  Two reasons…

  • Nevada law requires that the person challenging the validity of a moved voter’s registration MUST be filed by a voter who lives in the exact same precinct as the voter being challenged.

 

By my count, there are over 900 precincts in Clark County alone, not counting the rest of the state. Which means to file challenges to moved voters, we’d have to recruit well over a thousand volunteers – one for each precinct – to file them.

This isn’t the fault of election officials.  This is the fault of the Nevada Legislature.

But even if we were to recruit volunteers in each precinct to file such challenges before the general election in November, almost all of the challenges would be rejected for a second reason…

  • Nevada law requires the person filing the challenge to have “personal knowledge” that the voter has moved. And “personal knowledge” is defined by the Nevada Administrative Code (NAC) as having “firsthand knowledge through experience or observation.”

 

We filed our challenges based on reviews of the official data provided by the post office and other states’ voter files.  However, by law as written, that doesn’t constitute firsthand knowledge through experience or observation.

What DOES meet that standard is a current resident attesting that the registered voter moved out and no longer lives at the residence where they are registered.  And this has been the focus of the Pigpen Project’s efforts for the last several months.

We’ve had a small team of volunteers going to homes and apartments where our data analysis shows a particular registered voter no longer lives.  If the current resident signs an official form attesting to the fact that the registered voter no longer lives there, THAT’S considered “personal knowledge.”

And the fact is, the Clark County ROV has been accepting and processing the hundreds of reports we’ve filed over the past few months since the Presidential Preference Primary.

However, this is just a drop in the bucket.

Immediately after the June 11 primary, the Pigpen Project submitted almost 30,000 names of voters statewide that we’ve identified, using governmental data, showing those voters have moved to another state. And we’ve asked the county clerks/registrars to send out confirmation postcards to those voters which the voters must return within 33 days to remain “active” on the voter rolls.

However, state law says the counties “may” use the data we, as an “external party,” provide if it’s determined to be “reliable and reasonable.”  Which our door-to-door activities have demonstrated is the case.

But according to state law, there’s no OBLIGATION for the county clerks/registrars to use our data.  Worse, there’s no obligation for the clerks/registrars to even confirm receipt of our files, let alone advise whether they do anything with them, or report back on the results of their actions if they do.

So much for transparency.

And according to an opinion issued by the Nevada Secretary of State’s office in March – an opinion we disagree with, by the way – the county clerks/registrars are required by state law to obtain approval from their county commissions before acting on our submissions.

But even if they did, a separate law imposes a 90-day “blackout” period before the general election in which voter files cannot be cleaned up.

So in order to send out the confirmation postcards in time to give voters the 33 days required to confirm their registration, those postcards would have to be mailed out by tomorrow – which obviously ain’t gonna happen.

And according to our research, that means at least 140,000 mail-in ballots are going to be sent out to people who the post office reports no longer live where they’re registered.

And to again be clear, this doesn’t mean election officials are breaking the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).  The state and various counties are meeting the bare minimum threshold of the law by now mailing confirmation postcards to any voter who had their primary ballot returned by the post office.

However, tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of ineligible “moved” voters have fallen through the cracks and remain on Nevada’s active registration rolls who shouldn’t be.  More can and should be done.  But the law doesn’t *require* that such actions be taken.

Again, this isn’t the fault of the county clerks/registrars.  This is the fault of the Nevada Legislature.

Not only is the current system costing taxpayers a small fortune to print and mail ballots to people who no longer live in Nevada and are no longer legally ineligible to vote here, but it increases the potential for bad actors who might get hold of those ballots to commit voting fraud – which is extremely hard to find let alone prove.

In the meantime, the Pigpen Project will continue doing its part to identify the flaws in the laws and work within the current system to clean up the voter rolls as best as possible.  But in the end, it’s up to elected legislators – regardless of party affiliation – to fix the problems.

There IS a way.  All they need is the will.

FAMOUS LAST WORDS

“We know, and I guarantee you'll agree, the voter rolls are not clean.” – Nevada Gov. Joe Lombardo

“Dirty voter rolls are the mother's milk of election fraud.” – Mark Mendlovitz

“Elected officials of all political stripes should want to prevent election fraud.” – Las Vegas Sun

The Pigpen Project is a project of Citizen Outreach Foundation, an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) grassroots organization founded in 1992.  Donations are tax-deductible for federal income tax purposes.

Get Breaking News & Project Updates

RECENT POSTS