Bevy of election-related bills before lawmakers ahead of looming committee deadline

With the April 14 deadline for bills to be passed out of their first committees quickly approaching, lawmakers and interested parties will soon see the first major bloodletting as many of the more than 1,000 individual pieces that have been introduced during the first several weeks of the session die in committee.

Nowhere is this more apparent than on the issue of elections, where lawmakers and committees have introduced about 30 election-related bills, with few having passed through committee as of Tuesday. Many of the measures introduced by Democratic lawmakers contain similar or identical provisions on topics such as automatic voter registration, universal polling locations and expanding same-day voter registration.

Democrats have introduced seven election related measures, with all but one — SB327 — either receiving or scheduled for hearings. Contrast that with the 11 bills introduced by Republicans, who are backing a bevy of election measures ranging from requiring identification to vote to double-checking voter rolls for possible non-citizens. Only three of the GOP bills have been heard or are scheduled for a hearing as of Tuesday.

The Assembly and Senate committees on elections have combined introduced eight additional election-related measures, ranging from allowing universal polling locations to allowing rural counties to rent voting machines from the state.

Legislators have introduced numerous other bills and resolutions ranging from restoration of voting rights for felons to placing rights for voters in the state Constitution, but the following summary of bills primarily details legislation that would modify the election and voting process itself.

Here’s quick key of some of the major Democratic-backed election bills this session and how they overlap with one another:

MAJOR DEMOCRATIC ELECTION LEGISLATION:

AB104 (Democratic Assemblywoman Ellen Spiegel): Scheduled for a hearing in Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections on April 6 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Voter pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds: Requires that voter registration agencies, such as the Department of Motor Vehicles, establish procedures to allow 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote and to automatically send that information to the Secretary of State and county clerks. It also requires the Secretary of State to establish a system to allow people to pre-register, cancel their pre-registration or update their pre-registration by computer and requires that system to be accessible to people with disabilities and available in languages other than English.
  • Same-day voter registration for early voting and election day: Authorizes people to register to vote for a primary, primary city, general or general city election either during early voting or on the day of the election. The county or city clerk will be required to designate one or more polling spots in the county as a site to register to vote during early voting and on election day, where individuals can complete a voter registration application and provide proof of identity and residence. After doing so, the individual will be allowed to vote only at the polling place at which he or she registered to vote.
  • Provisional ballots: Requires provisional ballots — those cast when a voter believes they are eligible and registered to vote but there are questions about their eligibility — to include all offices, candidates and ballot questions on which the person who is casting the provisional ballot is allowed to vote and requires those ballots to be included in the unofficial election results released on election night. If the number of provisional ballots would affect the outcome of a race or ballot question, the county or city clerk would not be allowed to include a provisional ballot in that unofficial election night total unless the clerk makes certain determinations.

AB257 (Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): No hearing scheduled.

  • Requires universal polling locations: Requires the county clerk to designate one or more polling places where anyone who is eligible to vote in the county may do so on the day of the primary or general election.
  • Same day voter registration for early voting and election day: Authorizes people to register to vote for a primary, primary city, general or general city election either during early voting or on the day of the election. The county or city clerk will be required to designate one or more polling spots in the county as a site to register to vote during early voting and on election day, where individuals can complete a voter registration application and provide proof of identity and residence. After doing so, the individual will be allowed to vote only at the polling place at which he or she registered to vote.

AB272 (Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson): Heard in Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on April 4.

  • Early voting extension: Extended to the Friday before an election, and allows county clerks to extend early voting to the Sunday before an election.
  • Allows universal polling locations: Allows the county clerk to designate one or more polling places where anyone who is eligible to vote in the county may do so on the day of the primary or general election.
  • Expanded voting material: Would authorize election officials to provide voting material in Mandarin or Cantonese.
  • Expanded voting Indian colonies: Would allow for certain Indian colonies and reservations to request a temporary polling location within the boundaries of the colony or reservation.

AB293 (Democratic Assemblyman Nelson Araujo): Heard in the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on March 28 at 1:30 p.m.

  • Opt-in presidential preference primary with date selected by the party: Establishes a procedure by which the state central committee of a major political party can request that the Secretary of State hold a presidential preference primary. The state central committee would be required to establish the date of its presidential preference primary election which must be at least 90 days after the day on which the committee notifies the Secretary of State of the date of the election. Nevada has been a presidential caucus state throughout most of its history.
  • Same day voter registration site for presidential preference primary: Requires certain polling places to be a site where a registered voter can change his or her political party affiliation.

AB478 (Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): No hearing scheduled.

  • Extended deadlines for voter registration by mail: Would change the deadline to register to vote by mail to the fifth Monday preceding the primary election, primary city election, general election or general city election (unless the postal service doesn’t provide delivery service on that day, in which case it is the first day following the fifth Monday.). Currently, mail-in voter registration applications must be postmarked no later than 30 days before a federal election and by the fifth Saturday preceding the election for other elections.

SB94 (Democratic Senate Majority Leader Aaron Ford): Scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee on April 5 at 4 p.m.

  • Extended deadlines for voter registration: Allows people to register to vote for a primary, primary city, general or general city election until the last day of early voting for the election, which is the Friday before the election, instead of closing the rolls on the third Tuesday before the election. It also extends the period to register to vote for recall and special elections from the third Saturday before the election to the fourth day before the election unless otherwise provided by law.
  • Same-day voter registration only on election day: Authorizes people to register to vote for a primary, primary city, general or general city election on the day of the election. The county or city clerk will be required to designate one or more polling spots in the county as a site to register to vote on election day, where individuals can complete a voter registration application and provide proof of identity and residence. After doing so, the individual will be allowed to vote only at the polling place at which he or she registered to vote.
  • Voter pre-registration only for 17 year olds: Authorizes people who are 17 years old to pre-register to vote.
  • Sunday hours for early voting: Requires that a permanent polling site in Clark and Washoe counties must remain open for at least four hours on every Sunday that falls within the early voting period.
  • Requires systems to distribute electronic sample ballot: Changes the option for county or city clerks to establish a system to distribute sample ballots electronically to a requirement to establish such a system.

SB144 (Democratic Sen. Pat Spearman): Heard in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee at 3:30 p.m.

  • Allows any county to establish universal polling locations: Authorizes the county clerk to designate one or more polling places where anyone who is eligible to vote in the county may do so on the day of the primary or general election, subject to the approval of the board of county commissioners or the city clerk, depending on whether it is a primary, primary city, general or general city election.
  • Election mobile app: Requires the Secretary of State to create and maintain an app for use on a mobile device that includes all information on the Secretary of State’s website and that allows a person to submit any information or form relating to elections that may be submitted to the Secretary of State.
  • Automatic voter registration at the DMV and other voter registration agencies: Requires a voter registration agency, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, to transmit information to register or pre-register someone to vote or to update a voter registration to the Secretary of State and the appropriate county clerk unless the person affirmatively declines in writing. Also requires county clerks to collect and submit certain information about people who apply to pre-register or register to vote or update their voter registration through a voter registration agency to the Secretary of State — including the number of people who registered to vote through those agencies and the number of people who attempted to register to vote through the agencies and have been determined to not be entitled to vote.
  • Voter pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds: Authorizes people who are at least 16 years old but less than 18 years old to pre-register to vote.
  • Requires systems to distribute electronic sample ballot: Changes the option for county or city clerks to establish a system to distribute sample ballots electronically to a requirement to establish such a system.
  • Military overseas-ballots: Provides that certain voters can use the federal postcard application to register to vote or request a military-overseas ballot if the application is received by the appropriate elections official no later than seven days before the election. It also authorizes a covered voter who does not receive his other military-overseas ballot and balloting materials for any reason to request that a local elections official resend the materials and cast their ballot by fax, email or a system of approved electronic transmission established by the Secretary of State.

SB211 (Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): No hearing scheduled.

  • Opt-in presidential preference primary with date set by Secretary of State: Establishes a procedure by which the state central committee of a major political party can request that the Secretary of State hold a presidential preference primary. The Secretary of State would determine the period of filing declarations of candidacy, the date and time of the election, the dates and times for early voting and provide notice of those periods. The election would have to be held on a weekday in February of the year of the election and early voting would be a three-day period. Nevada has been a presidential caucus state throughout most of its history.
  • Early voting changes for primary elections: Provides that the early voting period for a primary election or primary city election begins 14 days before the election (Sundays and federal holidays excluded) instead of the period beginning the third Saturday preceding the primary election and extending through the Friday before election day (Sundays and federal holidays excluded.)

SB327 (Democratic Senator Aaron Ford): No hearing scheduled.

  • Automatic DMV voter registration: Would require the state’s DMV to create an automatic voter registration system that would enable a person obtaining a driver’s license to automatically be registered to vote unless they affirmatively choose to opt out of doing so.

SB492 (Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections) Heard in committee on March 29, scheduled for a committee vote on April 5.

  • Allows universal polling locations in Clark and Washoe: Allows the county clerk in Washoe and Clark county to designate one or more polling places where anyone who is eligible to vote in the county may do so on the day of the primary or general election. Would require the county clerk to publicize the locations.

IP1: Approved by both houses of the Legislature. Vetoed by Gov. Brian Sandoval on March 21.

  • Automatic DMV voter registration: Would have required the state’s DMV to create an automatic voter registration system that would enable a person obtaining a driver’s license to automatically be registered to vote unless they affirmatively choose to opt out of doing so.

OTHER ELECTION REFORM BILLS:

AB21 (Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): Heard in the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee at 1:30 p.m.

  • Ineligibility to hold office: Bars candidates from taking office who have been determined by a court to have not met the qualifications for office and allows the court to impose attorney’s fees.
  • Gross misdemeanor for false declarations about candidacy: It also states that candidates who knowingly and willfully file a declaration of candidacy, acceptance of candidacy or a declaration of residency which contains a false statement is guilty of a gross misdemeanor. The legislation also changes the declaration and acceptance of candidacy forms to include a statement that the candidates understands that knowingly and willfully filing such a document with a false statement is a crime punishable as a gross misdemeanor. Candidates would also be required to present the filing officer with two types of acceptable identification and documentation as proof of identity and residency.
  • In-state campaign accounts: Requires that the separate account in a financial institution used for depositing campaign contributions must be in a financial institution located in Nevada. It also requires that any political action committees that receive $1,000 or more to open a separate account in an in-state financial institution to deposit those contributions.

AB164 (Republican Assemblywoman Lisa Krasner) No hearing scheduled.

  • Voter ID: Requires proof of identity for voting in person, would require the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles provide free identification cards.

AB274 (Democratic Assemblyman Nelson Araujo): Heard in Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on March 21

AB389 (Republican Assemblyman Jim Marchant): No hearing scheduled.

  • Ineligible candidate changes: Prohibits the name of an ineligible candidate from appearing on the ballot unless the period for changing the ballot has elapsed, provides remedies and penalties in pre-election challenges to the qualifications of a candidate and prohibits filling vacancies in a nomination in certain circumstances, among other changes.
  • Candidacy requirements: A candidate for election or appointment to the Legislature must be a resident of the state for one year prior to their election or appointment and the legislative district for at least 180 days immediately preceding the date of close of filing for the declaration or acceptance of candidacy.
  • Gross misdemeanor for false declarations about candidacy: It also states that candidates who knowingly and willfully file a declaration of candidacy, acceptance of candidacy or a declaration of residency which contains a false statement is guilty of a gross misdemeanor.
  • Only citizens can participate in voter registration drives: Provides that every person who, as a part of a voter registration drive, collects or submits to the county clerk completed voter registration applications must be a citizen of the United States.

AB226 (Republican Assemblyman Ira Hansen): No hearing scheduled

  • Open Primaries: Makes several changes as to how minor party and independent candidates file for office, including moving of deadlines.

AB392 (Republican Assemblyman James Oscarson): Heard in Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on April 4.

  • Campaign ads: Prohibits public officers or employees from using official stationery from a state or local government for most political purposes, including support or opposition to a candidate or ballot question or to solicit contributions for a political purpose.

AB418 (Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): No hearing scheduled

  • Voting secrecy: Would provide that voters would not be compelled under oath to reveal whom they voted for. Clarifies who can view ballots in a contested election.
  • Recounts: Changes existing recount law from doing an initial recount of ballots from 5 percent of precincts before engaging in a full recount of all ballots to removing the initial recount process. Provides that paper ballots must be hand-counted and ballots counted by a mechanical recording device be recounted in the same way.

SB93 (Republican Senator Joe Hardy): Heard in Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on Feb. 15.

  • Mail-only voting: Authorizes the governing body of a city incorporated under a special charter that holds elections in odd-numbered years (Boulder City, Henderson, Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Caliente and Yerington) to provide for mail ballot-only elections.

SB100 (Republican Senator James Settelmeyer): No hearing scheduled.

  • Optional Voter ID: Requires each county and city clerk to establish a system allowing people to present proof of identification to vote in person at a polling place.

SB103 (Republican Senator James Settelmeyer): Not scheduled for a hearing, and legislative leadership plans to block the measure.

  • Open Primaries: Creates a nonpartisan “blanket” primary system, which would allow all candidates regardless of party to appear on a primary ballot and allow any registered voter to cast a ballot. The top two-vote getters would be placed on the general election ballot.

SB113 (Independent Sen. Patricia Farley): Heard in Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections on March 13

  • Residency & contribution reimbursement: Require candidates who violate residency requirements to reimburse campaign donations over a certain amount, and creates requirements for a repayment plan. Prevents ineligible candidates who appear on a ballot from being seated as a legislator.

SB117 (Republican Senator James Settelmeyer): Approved by Senate unanimously on April 4.

  • Accommodating disabled voters: Would require with few exceptions each polling place to have a separate line for voters with disabilities or who can otherwise not physically wait in line, and allow them to move to the front of the line to vote.

SB319 (Republican Senator James Settelmeyer): No hearing scheduled.

  • Double-checking registered voters: Requires the DMV and Secretary of State to cross-check the state list of registered voters with the list of people who have received driver’s authorization cards. Creates a process for persons on the list to prove citizenship, and allows the Secretary of State to remove them from the registered voter list.

SB331 (Republican Senator Michael Roberson) No hearing scheduled

  • Double-checking registered voters: Requires the DMV and Secretary of State to cross-check the state list of registered voters with the list of people who have received driver’s authorization cards. Creates a process for persons on the list to prove citizenship, and allows the Secretary of State to remove them from the registered voter list.

SB424 (Republican Senator Michael Roberson) No hearing scheduled.

  • Voter ID: Requires proof of identity for voting in person, would require the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles provide free identification cards and would allow for provisional ballots to be cast.
  • Double-checking registered voters: Requires the DMV and Secretary of State to cross-check the state list of registered voters with the list of people who have received driver’s authorization cards.

SB447 (Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): Heard in committee on April 3.

  • Absentee ballots for people with disabilities: Would allow registered voters with physical disabilities who are unable to physically go to a polling place to request, in writing, that a county or city clerk allow them to use an absentee ballot for all future elections.

SB491 (Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections): Scheduled for a committee hearing on April 5.

  • Leasing voting machines: Allows for county commissions with populations less than 100,000 (all but Washoe and Clark) to lease mechanical voting systems from the Secretary of State without an option to purchase. Rental payments would need to be placed in the state’s main budget account, and be used to replace aging and outdated machines.