On May 15, 2023, Soren Dayton testified to the Nevada Assembly Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections in support of provisions of S.B.404, which would make several changes to the administration of elections. Dayton’s testimony focused on speeding up the counting of votes through “pre-canvassing” of early votes, meaning validating and counting votes cast before election day. As Dayton notes, this would both simplify the work of election administrators on election day and speed up counting the results on election day. This would help local officials get complete election results faster.
Thank you Chairwoman Gorelow and members of the Assembly for allowing me to testify in favor of SB 404 and in particular provisions that allow for faster counting and increased confidence in elections.
Briefly, about me. I lead the Governance Program at the Niskanen Center, a center-right think tank in Washington, D.C. Previously, I was the Executive Director of the Young Republican National Federation. I also worked for John McCain’s 2008 campaign for President and for a Republican Member of Congress. I have also consulted for Republican campaigns around the country.
Our primary interest in election policy is that administrators and legislators should take actions to increase voter confidence in elections. One guiding principle is that election results should be available accurately and quickly. By ensuring that the public gets complete election results as quickly as possible, you limit public confusion about results.
SB 404 has strong provisions that, if enacted, should increase the public’s confidence in the vote counting process. The pre-canvassing provisions would allow, if a local jurisdiction chooses, local election officials to pre-canvas early votes.
There are several reasons that this is a good idea.
First, SB 404’s pre-canvassing provisions would align the treatment of early votes with the way vote-by-mail ballots are handled. As you know, vote-by-mail constitutes the majority of the votes cast in Nevada today. In that way, SB 404 simplifies the process by treating all votes cast before election day the same way.
Second, SB 404’s pre-canvasing provisions allow local election administrators more flexibility in how they manage elections. Election administrators have an enormously challenging job. If they can do some work before election day, that leaves election day to manage in-person voting and counting of those votes – and mail ballots that come in on election day. This allows election administrators to get results out more quickly.
Third, it’s up to the local administrator. The pre-canvassing provisions are up to the discretion of the administrators. If it doesn’t help them manage their process or increase confidence in their community, they don’t have to implement them.
Furthermore, SB 404 does not increase the risk for fraud. It is already illegal to disclose pre-canvassing information, and there has never been a disclosure of pre-canvassing from mail voting.
There are many legitimate disagreements in election policy. But pre-canvassing is a straightforward administrative step that should increase voter confidence in election results.
Thank you for allowing me to share my perspective on this important issue.