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OPINION: Secure our vote


Image: Jay Phagan/Wikimedia Commons

By Laura Hale, Indivisible Northern Nevada

In partnership with Nevadans for Election Reform and the League of Women Voters of Nevada, Indivisible Northern Nevada has published “A Citizen’s Report on Election Security in Nevada and the Nation,” available online at https://indivisiblennv.org/

Laura Hale, Co-Lead for Indivisible Northern
Nevada’s Fair Democracy Team

Overwhelming evidence of ongoing foreign interference in US elections demands that we take immediate action to safeguard our elections. Voting is the lynchpin of our democracy and we want every eligible American to be able to cast their vote with confidence that it will be fairly counted. Unless everybody’s vote is secure, nobody’s vote is secure!

In Nevada, our County Clerks, Registrars, election officers, and advisory committees under the Secretary of State’s Office have made great strides in securing the election processes. Our state legislators have supported funding for two key elements of security: 1) new voting machines and 2) paper ballots, in all 17 of our counties.  

In Washoe County, Registrar Deanna Spikula has “every confidence” in the new voting machines and noted the significant decrease in the need for provisional ballots based on legislation allowing people to vote in any location. Provisional ballots have been a significant problem in the past, where out of 114 provisional ballots submitted in Washoe County in 2018, only 11 were actually cast.

According to Sondra Cosgrove, chair of Nevada’s Advisory Committee on Participatory Democracy, “We don’t have the funds to create a centralized voter registration system to allow for one encrypted system, so we’ll be moving to automatic voter registration and same-day registration with county-level servers that feed information up to the Secretary of State’s Office. This means that each county will need help to encrypt their data and the smaller counties may need financial or contracted labor help.”

Beginning in 2022, post-election audits that manually examine the paper record of votes cast will be required and all county clerks will be required to conduct risk-limiting audits. This may require additional resources.

Key investments in election systems throughout the nation will help secure our votes. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed $600 million with strong accountability language for how states spend the funds. The SAFE Act introduced in the Senate would authorize funding for the Election Assistance Commission and includes language that would ban voting machines from being connected to the internet and being produced in foreign countries.  

To secure the vote before 2020, we need the Senate and House to agree on funding and accountability language by the Congressional funding deadline of November 21st. Nevadans of all political persuasions should support secure elections by urging Senators Cortez-Masto and Rosen to support the election security funding bill with adequate resources and accountability requirements.

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