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Policy Summary:

Due to the dangers of the COVID-19 coronavirus, the U.S. federal government, a number of U.S. states and numerous local governments encouraged a variety of preventative social measures to try and contain the virus. Shelter in place and stay at home orders, the closing of non – essential businesses and suggested social distancing techniques eventually led to an estimated 150 million Americans – out of an estimated 325 million total population – unwillingly confined in their homes. Most suggestions and orders by the governments were to last through March 2020 but some have been extended into April 2020.

On June 9, 2020 the State of Nevada is scheduled to hold a primary for all statewide offices. (Nevada held a presidential caucus in February 2020 for only the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont won the state’s delegates in that contest). However, because of concerns about spreading the COVID-19 coronavirus in polling stations where hundreds would gather at a time and thousands would pass through throughout the day, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske announced, in conjunction with county election officials in all seventeen (17) of Nevada’s state counties, that the primary election would be conducted entirely by mail and absentee ballot. Shortly thereafter, Governor Steve Sisolak (D-NV) announced his approval of the decision. LEARN MORE

Policy Analysis
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 coronavirus has upended nearly all aspects of American life in 2020. No sector has been spared – the national economy, the American sports world and a number of social events have been curtailed and/or suspended to prevent more Americans from being infected and prematurely struck down dead by the virus.

But in March 2020 and with a coming summer election season that will lead up to the November 2020 American elections, questions have emerged as to how the U.S. will conduct elections with stay at home orders and social distancing practices in place. American elections are a time for Americans to congregate at polling stations around the country and select the candidates of their choice yet medical recommendations and precautions cannot be ignored because of the need to stem the spread of this dangerous virus.

In response, a total of twelve states have made adjustments to upcoming primaries. Seven states moved their upcoming primaries to June 2, 2020 (Connecticut, Delaware, Indiana, Maryland, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island) while Louisiana, Kentucky and Georgia moved their primaries to a number of different dates in May and June 2020. By pushing the dates further into the summer, it was hoped the spread of the virus would be contained by then and it would be safe for American voters to visit their local polling booths.

In that context, Nevada’s decision is unique in that it has become the first state to announce a primary that will be conducted entirely by mail. A number of other states have publicly urged citizens to vote by absentee ballot (Wyoming, Alaska and West Virginia) but Nevada is the first to make voting by mail for this primary mandatory. Voters don’t even have to request an absentee ballot, as is the usual practice. Nevada will simply mail all registered voters their ballot with technical instructions as to how to fill it out and how to utilize either of the two options to return the package. Voters can simply drop it in any mailbox or drop it off at their local polling station at a drive – through site. Ballots will have to be received or postmarked by primary election day but Nevada has assured their voters that there will also be a seven – day window for the state and/or the voter to correct technical errors if any are detected.

While America and much of the world remains on edge with the ongoing threat of this virus, the steps taken by the State of Nevada to continue the democratic process with a workable absentee ballot/mail – in system is the model other states should implement as soon as possible. LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE, LEARN MORE

Engagement Resources:

  • Election Protection – non – profit group working to protect citizen’s right to vote with webpage on states who have adjusted their primaries because of the COVID-19 coronavirus.
  • Lawyers Committee For Civil Rights Under Law – non – profit’s webpage with a broad general overview of issues related to voting rights.

This brief was compiled by Rod Maggay. If you have comments or want to add the name of your organization to this brief, please contact Rod@USResistnews.org.

Photo by James Walsh

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