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Nevada redistricting effort gets more time, but not electronic signatures

Redistricting reformers in Nevada have another shot at getting their initiative on the November ballot after a federal judge allowed for more time to collect signatures.

Judge Miranda Du of Reno has given Fair Maps Nevada six extra weeks to circulate petitions but turned down the group's request to be allowed to collect electronic signatures. Adhering to this month's deadline in light of the coronavirus pandemic would be unconstitutional, she wrote Friday, but relaxing the state's requirement for handwritten signatures could incubate fraud.

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A message from Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske

Claim: Nevada​ illegally mailed absentee ballots to registered voters. Fact check: False

Nevada allows any voter to vote absentee by mail. Like in many other states adapting to carrying out elections amidst a global pandemic, Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske declared the upcoming primary would be carried out by mail due to the coronavirus. A federal judge recently ruled that conducting the primary election by mail ballot was lawful in rejecting an injunction to block Nevada's primary.

President Trump's tweet suggests voting-by-mail is fraudulent, despite a lack of evidence to support the claim. In a press release responding to Trump, Cegavske, a Republican, said Nevadans "have been voting by mail with no evidence of election fraud" for over a century, including members of the military, citizens residing outside the state, voters in designated mailing precincts, and voters requesting absentee ballots. Cegavske said all 17 counties have established processes and procedures in place for safe and secure mail-in voting. Research shows voter fraud with mail-in ballots is rare and even with the increase in mail voting over time, fraud rates remain "infinitesimally small," according to the Brennan Center.

The tweet also seems to suggest that Trump has the legal authority to "hold up funds" to the state of Nevada for carrying out its upcoming primary by allowing all voters to vote by mail. No such legal authority exists.

The statements made here are alike to those in another tweet Trump wrote, which levied substantially similar claims about the state of Michigan. Trump falsely accused Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson of illegally mailing out absentee ballots to 7.7 million Michiganders for the state's primary and general elections.

Benson responds after Trump threatens funding

Claim: Michigan illegally sent absentee ballots to voters. Fact check: False

Michigan did not send ballots to registered voters like President Trump said. Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who has encouraged all voters to vote by mail for all elections held this year, announced Tuesday all 7.7 million registered voters would receive applications to vote by mail in the August primary and November general elections.

Responding to the president, Benson noted that her office was sending applications, not ballots, "just like my GOP colleagues in Iowa, Georgia, Nebraska and West Virginia." The applications sent out, Benson said, ensure "that no Michigander has to choose between their health and their right to vote."

In a similar tweet, Trump also accused the state of Nevada's election officials of sending mail-in ballots to voters. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske, a Republican, announced registered voters would start receiving mailed absentee ballots to vote for the primary, held predominantly by mail.

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Suits seek e-signing for anti-gerrymander ballot measures in N.D., Nevada

Opponents of partisan gerrymandering have asked federal courts in two Western states to keep their referendum proposals alive by permitting electronic signatures on ballot petitions.

The lawsuits, brought Thursday in Nevada and North Dakota, join similar litigation in seven other states filed since the coronavirus pandemic made it effectively impossible to pursue grassroots citizen initiatives the traditional way — by canvassing door-to-door or outside retailers in search of handwritten signatures.

But only one of those, in Arkansas, is similarly in support of a top item on the democracy reform agenda: taking legislative redistricting away from politicians, who have an obvious interest in preserving their power, and turning it over to independent commissions.

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