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OPINION

Nevada Proves that Automatic Vote by Mail Is the Worst Way to Run an Election

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Charles Krupa

The Nevada Secretary of State just issued data that show the 2022 election was a mess. 

Why? Because of vote by mail.

In Nevada, all “active” registered voters are automatically mailed ballots. 

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That might sound good, but the new data proves that mass vote by mail should have remained a pandemic experiment. 

An analysis by the Public Interest Legal Foundation found that 8,036 mail ballots were rejected by election officials. To put this figure into perspective, the Nevada Senate race between Laxalt and Masto was decided by 7,928 votes. 

More mail ballots were rejected than Masto’s margin of victory over Laxalt. That doesn’t mean the outcome of the election was wrong. But we shouldn’t even have to wonder.

Mail ballots can be rejected for a multitude of reasons. For example, a reason for rejection could be the ballot arrived too late. That’s what happens when you put the Post Office in charge. The United States Postal Service has a 97 percent success rate for timely delivery of political mail. 

Put another way, the goal is just three percent failure. Thank goodness the airlines aim higher.

Other reasons cited for rejection could include that the voter forgot to sign the ballot. In an actual polling place, this problem gets cured on the spot.

Automatic mailing of ballots to everyone in the voter rolls doesn’t work when those rolls have problems. Otherwise, dead registrants are mailed ballots. Duplicate registrants are mailed multiple ballots. Ballots go to where voters used to live, not where they lived in 2022.

The data show this happened. In the 2022 elections, more than 95,000 mail ballots in Nevada were undeliverable, meaning they were sent to bad or outdated addresses. 

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I personally visited scores of commercial addresses on the active Nevada voter roll. I found vacant lots, an abandoned mine, liquor stores, casinos and a bong shop. What I didn’t find there was the voter. Yet, someone was casting mail ballots from these preposterous “residences.” 

Folks are also getting registered more than once. There are deceased registrants on the voter rolls. All of these are problems in an automatic vote by mail system. 

This massive failure of Nevada’s automatic vote by mail election process shouldn’t be a surprise. It failed everywhere it was tried in 2020. 

Unfortunately, many states have now passed laws institutionalizing these pandemic mail voting policies. The Post Office excels at one thing – delivering your neighbor’s mail.  We shouldn’t be trusting them with electing our leaders.

Nevada needs to add safeguards to its vote by mail system. Luckily, Governor Joe Lombardo has stepped up and proposed election reforms to the state legislature. 

His proposal would require voters to request a mail ballot rather than automatically mailing one to every active registered voter. This will stop ballots from going to bad addresses, deceased registrants, and people receiving multiple ballots.

It also saves lots of taxpayer money. In 2022, Nevada spent no less than $2,000,0000 mailing ballots to bad addresses and to voters who never returned their mail ballot. 

Additionally, the Governor’s proposal would require a voter to protect their vote by providing a unique numeric identifier such as a driver’s license number or part of a Social Security number when casting a mail ballot. That’s common sense and won’t burden anyone.

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Signature matching, like Nevada currently has, is an inefficient and inconsistent system. In 2022, a Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist reported on how he successfully tricked signature reviewers into accepting six ballots with his signature affixed. 

The signature matching system is not working. 

The Governor’s proposal also includes that all mail ballots be required to arrive by Election Day. Bravo, as current Nevada law allows mail-in ballots to be accepted for four days after an election. The status quo delays election results.

It’s supposed to be Election Day, not Election Week. These reforms will restore clarity about who wins and loses elections, and that’s something we can all agree on. 

J. Christian Adams is the President of the Public Interest Legal Foundation, a former Justice Department attorney, and current commissioner on the United States Commission for Civil Rights.

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