Clerk prepping for presidential primary

Two voters contribute to the blizzard of 5,000 paper ballots received by the Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer’s Office on Election Day 2022.

Two voters contribute to the blizzard of 5,000 paper ballots received by the Douglas County Clerk-Treasurer’s Office on Election Day 2022.

With mailed, drop-off and in-person voting, Clerk-Treasurer Amy Burgans told legislators on Tuesday that it’s like running three elections at once.

With the prospect of a presidential primary in February 2024, that will increase to the equivalent of nine elections next year.

Unless the Nevada Legislature makes significant changes in the state’s election law, potential presidential candidates will have to file Oct. 2-16.

The 2021 Legislature established on Feb. 6, 2024, presidential primaries to replace the previous caucus system.

Nevada Republicans conducted a mail-in primary in 1996, but the last time both parties voted for a presidential nominee was 1980.

Nevada is scheduled to be the fourth state in the union to conduct a presidential selection next year.

On Tuesday, Burgans was one of a handful of Nevada election officials to testify before the Joint Meeting of the Assembly and Senate Committees on Legislative Operations and Elections.

A key question for Burgans as she begins preparations for the county budget process is the price tag associated with those three elections.

She said she is seeking a $400,000 election budget from county commissioners to pay for the three elections, not including salaries. That’s up from $250,000 this year.

While the Legislature has approved reimbursing the county for postage and paper for the mailed ballots, there are other costs associated with elections.

Her key concern involved expansion of the automatic voter registration where people register to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles.

She said the clerk’s office receives 800-900 voter registrations or updates a month from the state that must be processed manually by the clerk’s office.

If any of the information is different from the one on file, a new registration is generated for the voter.

Currently, the state’s election officers are using a couple of different systems.

She told the joint committee that state and county election officers are working on a top-down voter registration system that would streamline tracking registration.

An attempt to fix an issue with registrations through the DMV will end up costing the county. When people register to vote through the DMV, they are automatically registered nonpartisan and are given a piece of paper telling them to log in to change their registration.

Burgans said starting Jan. 1, 2024, election officials will be required to send out packets to anyone registering through the DMV explaining that information.

Nevada’s closed primary system means nonpartisan voters can’t cast a ballot for partisan offices in the primary. In counties like Douglas where Republicans dominate registration, partisan offices like county commissioner are decided in the primary.

With the second week of the Legislature wrapping up, Douglas County commissioners voted to support three bills proposed by the Nevada Association of Counties, including one seeking a study of unfunded mandates, like shifting who sends 800-900 voters a month information packets on how to vote or sign up for a party.


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