CARSON CITY, Nev. (CN) — Nevada Democratic Governor Steve Sisolak on Monday signed into law a bill requiring that mail-in ballots be sent to all active voters in the state for the November election in light of the coronavirus pandemic, legislation decried as outrageous by President Trump, who threatened to file a lawsuit.
“During this global pandemic, I made a commitment that we’d do all we can to allow Nevadans to safely cast a ballot in the upcoming November election,” Sisolak said in a prepared statement.
“As I have said before, Nevada is widely recognized as being a leader in election administration, and this bill will enable election officials to continue to support the safest, most accessible election possible under these unprecedented circumstances.”
The new election provisions spelled out in the 64-page bill apply when the governor or the Legislature declares a state of emergency or a declaration of disaster.
Legislators approved the measure, Assembly Bill 4, during a special session. The vote was along party lines with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition. The state Senate voted 13-8 in favor; the vote in the other chamber, the Assembly, was 29-12.
In a tweet on Monday, Trump wrote: “In an illegal late night coup, Nevada’s clubhouse Governor made it impossible for Republicans to win the state. Post Office could never handle the Traffic of Mail-In Votes without preparation. Using Covid to steal the state. See you in Court!”
Nevada Republican Party Chairman Michael McDonald also issued a statement. “By throwing the integrity of the election results into question through mandating ballots be sent to all voters and legalizing ballot harvesting, Nevada Democrats have proven to be a callous and careless majority that is drunk on power.”
Nevada Democrats, including former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, responded by criticizing Trump’s priorities.
“Donald J. Trump has no integrity and no scruples,” Reid said in a prepared statement. “That’s why he’s lying about our state leaders and threatening a bogus lawsuit simply because Democrats made it easier for people to vote. His desperate tweets are the clearest sign he knows he’s going to lose in November. Trump should be more focused on preventing more deaths from this global pandemic and ensuring our economy recovers.”
William McCurdy II, chairman of the Nevada State Democratic Party, said, “What is really ‘outrageous’ is Trump’s priorities.”
“That he would threaten Nevada Democrats’ work to protect voting access through a crisis of his own making is both despicable and par for the course,” McCurdy said in prepared remarks.
The legislation doesn’t mandate an all-mail election during an emergency. For primary and general elections, it requires in-person polling sites — at least 35 during early voting and 100 on Election Day in Clark County, the state’s most populous county encompassing Las Vegas. For Washoe County, the other major urban county that includes Reno, at least 15 sites must be open during early voting and 25 on Election Day. The remaining counties must have at least one site.
The number of in-person sites greatly exceeds those available during the June primary election, conducted mostly by mail, when voters lined up at Clark County’s three polling places and Washoe County’s lone site.
The legislation also allows any person — not just a family member — to drop off other voters’ mail-in ballots, referred to as ballot collecting or harvesting, which Republicans said could lead to fraud.