Where I Stand:

Harry Reid: Universal vote-by-mail is good for Nevada

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Matt Rourke / AP

A voter casts her mail-in ballot at in a drop box in West Chester, Pa., May 28, 2020, prior to the primary election. Just over four months before Election Day, President Donald Trump is escalating his efforts to delegitimize the upcoming presidential election. Last week he made a startling, and unfounded, claim that 2020 will be “the most corrupt election in the history of our country.”

As he does every August, Brian Greenspun is taking some time off and is turning over his Where I Stand column to others. Today’s guest columnist is former Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, who served as Senate majority leader from 2007 to 2015.

As a paragon for democracy around the globe, the United States must do everything in its power to assure its citizens that safe, secure and successful elections will be held in all 50 states.

That is why I am appreciative of the work Gov. Steve Sisolak, Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson and Nevada Senate Majority Leader Nicole Cannizzaro have done to assure voters are able to make their voices heard safely and securely in November’s general election.

Our country has a long history of absentee voting by mail dating to the American Revolution. Expanding absentee voting to all voters is a critical component of protecting Nevadans’ constitutional right to vote amid this pandemic. We are expanding voting by mail because the pandemic has resulted in unprecedented danger to public health. No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote.

Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have made it clear the blueprint for a perfect election during the pandemic will not be coming from our nation’s capital. Recognizing the responsibility states bear in ensuring all voters can participate in the democratic process, Nevada’s elected leaders have taken steps to ease the burden on voters and election officials.

In Nevada’s June primary, some voters had to wait for hours because of limited in-person polling places. Assembly Bill 4, which is now law, will shorten waiting times by requiring a sufficient number of polling places for both Election Day and early voting.

Eighty percent of Nevada voters cast their ballot by mail in the June primary. With Nevada experiencing a spike in coronavirus cases and health experts predicting the virus will linger into the fall, there is reason to expect a similar surge in requests for mail ballots. That is why the law allocates $3 million to support the rollout of universal mail-in ballots.

Research shows that incidences of voter fraud at the national level are rare and none of the five states that have held their elections primarily by mail have had incidences of irregularity. In Nevada, Republican Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske reported no evidence of voter fraud in the 2018 election or the 2020 June primary.

The only danger to the integrity of our election in November are Trump’s threats to delay the election and his continued denigration of the safety of vote-by-mail. His threats are in defiance of experts and at odds with our country’s long history of using absentee voting by mail. In addition to undermining the legitimacy of mail-in ballots, the president has also falsely claimed that absentee and mail balloting favors Democrats. The latest research concludes that no party benefits when using universal vote-by-mail.

Because of the law recently passed, voting by mail will actually boost voter turnout. Nevadans of all political identities can be assured every eligible voter will have the ability to freely and fairly vote in November without endangering their health or the integrity of the election.

The Constitutional Accountability Center has said, “No right is recognized more times in the Constitution than the right to vote. So, if we really want to uphold the values of American democracy, we need to let everyone’s voices be heard, no matter how they plan to vote.”