LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Legislators in the 2021 Nevada legislative session are on the edge of what could become the most divisive battle of the session with the introduction of a bill overhauling the state's system of election: AB 321.
Primary sponsor and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson plans to bring the bill to committee for its first hearing Thursday.
"We saw a tremendous result in what we did in the special session to increase access to the polls," Frierson said.
He championed AB 4 during the 2020 Special Session called to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.
That bill created the system used during the 2020 election where every registered voter would be sent a mail in ballot when an election falls in a state of emergency.
AB 321 would, among many other provisions, make universal mail voting permanent.
"Additional polling locations, mail-in options, I think that all of that encompasses things that we need to continue, not just during a pandemic," Frierson said.
The bill would effectively remove all state provisions concerning current regulation of absentee ballots and replace it with a system in which every registered voter would be sent a mail ballot automatically.
Voters would need to send a letter to their county clerk or registrar requesting they not be sent a mail ballot to opt out.
Other significant provisions in AB 321 include a reduction in the time allowed for curing ballots from seven to four days, regulations for the verification of signatures, guidelines for using electronic signature verification machines, and a requirement that the secretary of state matches the state's voter rolls with available death records.
"We're going to continue to make sure that every voter has access to the polls," Frierson said. But we are also focused on security."
Assembly Minority Leader Robin Titus has been rallying Republicans against the election reforms ahead of the bill's introduction.
"The secretary of state herself said we had a very good process for folks to request an absentee ballot," Titus said.
She says the widespread use of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election lead to a severe degradation of trust in the electoral process in voters recently citing still unproven claims of voter irregularities and fraud.
"I don't care if you can prove fraud or not," Titus said. "The fact that that the seed has been planted, the fact that people distrust the voting process and that integrity. We need to have folks gain trust in that."
Titus has been pushing a slate of election reforms favored by Republicans including requiring ID to vote, removing AB 4 from law, and changing the voter registrar positions in Clark and Washoe counties from an appointed position to an elected position.
Frierson says he will host a press conference Wednesday morning to introduce AB 321 to the public before it's heard in committee Thursday.