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Secretary of State Ross Miller says Intentional, Politically Biased Misinterpretation of Proposals and Lack of Decorum at Public Hearing Led to Inaccurate Reports
Posted Date: 12/13/2011

Contact: Catherine Lu 
             (702) 486-1498 / 334-7953 

(Carson City, NV; December 13, 2011) – Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller says legislative drafting errors and a politically charged atmosphere at a regulatory workshop created confusion regarding proposed elections regulations. Miller says media accounts of the meeting and the proposed changes were erroneous and deserve clarification.

Initial media reports said that Miller had removed the regulations regarding when official results could be released because of media pressure. In fact, those changes to the regulations were to have already been removed and were in the draft simply because of a clerical error during the Legislative Counsel Bureau’s review process. Similarly, confusion over the use of a signed oath on absentee ballots was also the result of a clerical error in the draft regulations.

“There were issues that came up during that meeting that seemed to be completely misunderstood,” said Miller. “The discussion of when election results could be released, and the discussion of the oath required for absentee ballots were both the focus of media reports. The controversy over those proposals was completely unnecessary since both items were in the draft as a result of clerical errors, and we had announced at the beginning of the meeting that it was our intent to correct them. It was clear, however, that certain partisan factions saw an opportunity to use those issues as an opportunity for political grandstanding.

“This was a regulatory work session, which is designed to clear up such errors as well as take productive public comment. There’s a big difference between robust, productive discourse and rhetorical posturing. We welcome public comment and input, but it’s a disservice to all Nevadans when a work session becomes a political rally. The meeting was posted 19 days prior to being held, and during that time, public comment could be submitted but we received only one submission, which was addressed when the clerical error regarding reporting was corrected. Then, on the day of the meeting we had people making speeches and creating an inflammatory environment. That resulted in confused and erroneous reporting of the issues and the meeting.

The two primary issues covered by the media were misreported as to both content and intent. First, the amendment to the regulation addressing posting of election night results was included to ensure the accuracy of the posting of unofficial results and to prevent inconsistent results between the Secretary of State’s office and those posted by the county clerks. The regulation and the proposed change are necessary to ensure that no results are posted until all the polling places are closed and all votes have been cast. Verification of results received by the Secretary of State prior to the county clerk posting unofficial results will prevent inconsistent and inaccurate election night reporting to the public. The Secretary of State’s Elections Division intends to amend this provision to remove the drafting error requiring that all county clerks must first report, but will not be removing the proposed change related to verification by our office prior to posting.

Second, the characterization that the regulations seek to eliminate the provision requiring absentee voters to sign an oath of voter is patently incorrect and a simple reading of the proposed changes would make that abundantly clear. The removal of the provisions relates only to the instructions that “must” be given to an absentee voter who requests their ballot to be sent to them by approved electronic transmission and does not remove the requirement that an absentee voter read and sign an oath related to their vote. The proposed regulation does not state this and this office would not allow same.

An erroneous media report also noted that the work session was part of a series of regulatory workshops to address not only election regulations but also business license regulations. Public meetings and workshops regarding business license regulations are a completely separate procedure and have no connection whatsoever to the election regulations.

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