Nevada seeks mail-in only June primary election amid virus

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada election officials are seeking to conduct a June primary election almost entirely by mail, canceling most in-person voting out because of the coronavirus.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske’s office said Tuesday that absentee ballots would be mailed to all active registered voters ahead of the June 9 election. Voters will have to fill out and return them in prepaid envelopes or bring them to a number of ballot drop-off locations.

At least 13 states have postponed primary elections because of the virus, and others are looking at mail-in options to ease concerns about crowds and voters waiting in line.

Cegavske said she took the step because of uncertainty about COVID-19, warnings from officials to avoid group gatherings and the fact that many poll workers are older and considered to be at a higher risk for the virus.

Nevada passed a law last year allowing same-day registration at in-person polling locations. To accommodate the law, Cegavske’s office said it will allow at least one in-person polling location in each county. Voters there can register and get help if they have issues with the ballot that was mailed to them, but Cegavske’s office is urging people to register in advance to avoid crowds at the “extremely limited” in-person polling places.

In Arizona, where about 80% of voting is already done by mail, the state’s top election official has asked lawmakers to allow counties to conduct their November general election all by mail. Maryland decided to hold an April special congressional election with mail-in ballots only, and Wyoming’s Democratic Party, which was already sending ballots for its presidential caucus to all its members, has canceled the in-person parts of its April caucus.

In Georgia, where officials already postponed presidential primaries originally scheduled for March, officials announced Tuesday that they would mail out a form to all voters allowing them to request a mail-in ballot for the rescheduled May 19 primaries.

Nevada already offered vote by mail for any registered voter who requests an absentee ballot. Under a 2019 law, Nevada voters this year can also request to be on a permanent list to receive a mail-in ballot for all elections.

In the 2018 election, less than 10% of Nevada voters cast ballots by mail. More than half of voters took advantage of two weeks of in-person early voting.

In 16 states, the ability to receive a ballot in the mail is greatly restricted, as some lawmakers and election officials believe it could allow the possibility of voter fraud.