Why is the League of Women Voters US disbanding the League of Women Voters of Nevada?

League Supporters,

The League of Women Voter US has decided that I am an unfit state and local president and if League of Women Voters of Nevada and of Southern Nevada are to continue, I must subject myself to censorship of my political speech and associations.

If I reject these offensive dictates, the LWVUS will disband the League as an organization in Nevada.  While this pains me, I must reject the charges and remedies and have decided to speak out rather than continue negotiating with an organization that refuses to act in good faith.

I began attending League of Women Voters of Southern Nevada meetings regularly about twelve years ago due to the organization’s academic foundation.  Instead of advancing partisan positions, the League arrived at positions through processes very similar to what we use in academia.

Meticulous research, sound argument construction, and strict rules for determining the reliability of evidence were all the hallmarks of the League’s approach to civic engagement.  The organization consistently stayed true to these processes and stood its ground when pressured from the outside.

This is also why I was happy to accept an offer to join the LWVSN Board and then eventually to become its president. I subsequently agreed to be president of the state-wide League of Women Voters of Nevada (LWVNV) as well.

Unfortunately, the LVWUS is drifting from this foundation and appears to be aligning with partisan partners.

This started in September of 2019, when the LWVUS announced its People Powered Fair Maps campaign to enact redistricting reform in all 50 states.   The LWVNV decided to run a ballot initiative to add an independent redistricting commission to our state’s constitution.  We received grant funding from the LWVUS as well as financial and legal support from RepresentUS and strategy help from RedRock Strategies, a local consulting company.  

In the past, LWVNV has partnered with Democratic organizations and consultants to stop voter ID legislation and to pass an automatic voter registration ballot question and in those instances no one in LWVUS commented on our coalition partnerships.

A reverend in the progressive community and an attorney associated with our Governor sued to stop our ballot initiative.  In response we agreed to change our ballot initiative’s summary statement to meet the plaintiff’s complaints, yet the attorney and his client refused to follow the judge’s order.  Instead, they frivolously appealed the case, after prevailing, to the Nevada Supreme Court. Yes, they appealed the case after winning. 

In that appeal’s briefing documents, the attorney stated in plain language that our ballot initiative should be stopped because the Democrats have a right to draw friendly redistricting maps. To be very clear, the courts have never ruled that either political party has a right to gerrymander.

The pandemic lockdown made it impossible to gather signatures to qualify our ballot initiative through the normal means and the Governor refused to issue an emergency order to allow us to use electronic signatures.  We use electronic signatures in Nevada for voter registration and the Attorney General’s office was fine with the Secretary of State’s office adding electronic signatures as a method for curing mail-in ballots for our primary.  Yet the Attorney General’s Office and the Governor’s Office argued that the electronic signature process is open to fraud and so was not acceptable for our purpose.

Ultimately, the Nevada Supreme Court ruled that the appeal against the lower court ruling lacked merit and it was dismissed, but by that point we had allocated all our resources for litigation and our time had run out.  Due to this use of the legal system to stop voting on our redistricting reform ballot question, I co-authored and authored two editorials presenting the facts of the matter.  This included criticism of the Democratic Party because using frivolous lawsuits to stop a direct democracy process is wrong.

LWVUS reprimanded me and told me someone had complained about me.  I was told that my redistricting coalition partners were not acceptable and my friendship with our Republican Secretary of State was a problem.  If I wanted to continue as the President of the LWVNV and the LWVSN, the LWVUS Board demanded that I submit all my communications as president to the LWVUS Board for review and that I follow political directives from the LWVUS newly hired political organizers. 

I was told that my Fair Maps coalition demonstrated that I have a bias against communities of color, so I will be required to work with LWVUS approved coalition partners in the future.  No Republican groups are included.

I have repeatedly requested to know the identity of the person or persons who complained about my conduct, but the LWVUS Board refuses to reveal that information.  This denial of basic due process rights is unacceptable. I have a right to know my accuser(s) and to directly address their accusations.  My right to defend myself has been denied.

Our three LWVNV Boards agree that it is unacceptable to have my political speech censored and I will not be told I cannot join in coalitions with certain partners.  I am a tenured college professor who values free speech and I work with groups in both political parties as well as with many individuals who are nonpartisan.

As for my criticism of Democratic leaders, I am following the LWVUS Policy on nonpartisan action:

https://www.lwv.org/league-management/policies-guidelines/nonpartisan-policy

The LWVUS uses this policy, yet denies me the power to also claim its authority.

For context, the LWVUS Board regularly issues press releases critical of the Republicans.  Just this month they called Republicans in Texas unAmerican.  Yet the LWVUS Board asserts they are within the policy because they do not use the words Republican Party; yet, in argument construction, action and agency remain, even in the passive voice.  Every action has an actor regardless of whether the actor is included in a sentence.

https://www.lwv.org/newsroom/press-releases/lwv-intervenes-protect-more-120000-voters-texas-drive-thru-polling

Further, why was Texas the target of LWVUS attention in this election, but not New York?

Ultimately, if I refuse to accept restrictions on my political speech and on my political associations, the LWVUS Board will disband the League of Women Voters chapters in Nevada.  But, my integrity is on the line, so I have no choice but to reject these undemocratic dictates and the LWVNV Boards support me.

This is a sad moment, but not an unusual historical occurrence.  Women’s history is full of splits and acrimony when one group decides to affirm the status quo and rejects all other viewpoints.

If you have questions, please ask me directly.

sondra.cosgrove@gmail.com

Sondra

Secretary of State Announces Completion of 2020 General Election Canvass

Post Date:11/24/2020 10:35 AM

Secretary of State Banner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer A. Russell
(775) 684-5793
SOSPIO@sos.nv.gov

(Carson City, NV; November 24, 2020) – Secretary of State Cegavske announces that the official canvass of the 2020 general election has been completed and the Governor’s office has been notified to prepare the Certificates of Election.

“I’d like to thank Nevada’s election officials for their dedication to providing a transparent and fair election” said Secretary Cegavske. “I am also thankful to the Supreme Court for allowing us the use of their chambers today and to the Justices for taking the time to participate in the canvass.”

The meeting of the Presidential Electors is scheduled for December 14, 2020.

Training: Legislative Advocacy During a Budget Crisis

SAVE THE DATE

Join the League of Women Voters of Southern Nevada on January 16th, 9-11 am, via Zoom, for our 2021 legislative advocacy training. We all know that money will be in short supply in the upcoming session, so we’ve invited Ellen Spiegel to share her experience and strategies for effective advocacy during a budget crisis.

RSVP: https://actionnetwork.org/events/legislative-advocacy-during-a-budget-crisis

Secretary of State Cegavske Issues Statement Regarding Post-Election Certification Process

Post Date:11/17/2020 10:06 AM

Secretary of State Banner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer A. Russell
(775) 684-5793
SOSPIO@sos.nv.gov

(Carson City, NV; November 17, 2020) – Secretary of State Cegavske issues the following statement regarding Nevada’s post-election certification process:

“I have not spoken with Senator Lindsey Graham or any other members of Congress regarding the 2020 general election in Nevada or my role in the post-election certification process.  Under Nevada law (NRS 293.395), the Secretary of State plays only a ministerial role in the process of certifying election returns.  Nevada’s election returns are certified by the county commissioners in each of Nevada’s seventeen counties.  The returns are then summarized in an abstract of votes, at which point the abstracts of votes are certified by the seventeen county election officials and transmitted to my office.  I then present the abstracts to the members of the Nevada Supreme Court who canvass the votes for federal, statewide, and legislative offices.  At no point do I, as Secretary of State, have the authority to certify or not certify election results.  Ultimately, it is the Governor who declares the outcomes and issues certificates of election.”

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LWVN Post-Election Update

League Supporters,

Now that the general election is done, I would like to express my gratitude to all our election officers and poll workers.  Despite our pandemic conditions and emergency changes, we made it through with flying colors.  In the coming days, we will hopefully receive this election’s data to determine if we need to make any tweaks in the 2021 legislative session.  But for now, let’s celebrate!

As we pivot toward the 2021 legislative session, if you are interested in pre-session preparations, which will begin soon, please let us know by completing this form: https://forms.gle/hPCT8exLN44PYJeH6

The Legislative Counsel Bureau has purchased redistricting software that includes a public map-drawing tool, so I reached out to Dr. Sam Wang at the Princeton Gerrymandering Project for assistance. He has introduced us to some Princeton graduate students who have agreed to work with us to offer trainings, via Zoom, on using this public tool.  We will offer these trainings from mid-January to mid-February. You can sign-up for the trainings here: https://forms.gle/hPCT8exLN44PYJeH6

Additionally, Dr. Wang put me in contact with Princeton undergraduates who have created a free software tool that allows anyone to use Census data to create “communities of interest” maps.  This will allow Nevadans to self-identify their own neighborhoods as communities of interest on maps that we will share with legislators.  We can start offering training on using this software, which is called Representable, in December.  You can review the program here: https://representable.org/

You can view a demonstration of the program here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l55X2BaFJz0

If you are interested in Representable training, please let us know here: https://forms.gle/SwGVeheN5RUW1Cqw7

Lastly, we are very excited to announce a civic engagement partnership with the Las Vegas Aces basketball team.  Our first partnership event will be December 19, 2020, 11 am to 1 pm, via Zoom.

The League of Women Voters of Southern Nevada is hosting a Holiday Party on December 19th and our special guest is Aces player Carolyn Swords.  During our first hour we will be looking forward to the year to come, including legislative opportunities, as well as looking back at our successes from the year past. 

We will then chat with Carolyn about this partnership and a book the Aces players read in the lead-up to this election.  The book is Democracy in One Book or Less.  Anyone who would like to read the book beforehand, which is not necessary, can find it on Amazon in many different formats: https://www.amazon.com/Democracy-One-Book-Less-Doesnt/dp/0062879367

If you can join us for this Holiday Party, the public is invited to attend, please RSVP: https://actionnetwork.org/events/lwvsn-holiday-party/

Please stay safe and secure,

Sondra

Secretary of State Cegavske Issues Statement on Complaints of Voter Fraud

Post Date: 11/09/2020 5:14 PM

Secretary of State Banner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer A. Russell
(775) 684-5793
SOSPIO@sos.nv.gov

The Secretary of State’s office, in conjunction with members of the Election Integrity Task Force, continues to investigate all creditable allegations of fraud related to the 2020 general election.  The Secretary of State has a sworn duty to ensure all election laws, both federal and state, are enforced. When someone is found to have violated any of these laws, they will be referred to the appropriate agency for prosecution.

It is difficult for the Secretary of State’s office to quantify how many voter fraud investigations are ongoing or how many voter fraud complaints have been received.  There are three reasons for this.

  1. The term voter fraud is extremely broad and potentially includes illegal activities beyond what the public normally thinks about when referring to voter fraud. Absent a standard, universally recognized definition of voter fraud, it is difficult for the Secretary of State’s office to release a number that doesn’t run the risk of being misinterpreted.

  2. A single complaint or single investigation may include multiple allegations of fraud or multiple suspects. A focus simply on the number of complaints received or active investigations runs the risk of masking the true scope of a complaint or investigation.

  3. Many voter fraud complaints lack any evidence and are more complaints about process or policy. Including these complaints in the number of voter fraud complaints runs the risk of overstating the prevalence of creditable voter fraud complaints.

While election officials rely on the public to report potential illegal conduct related to an election, election officials are also currently going through statutorily required post-election processes, including vote count reconciliation and audits of the voting system components.  Through these post-election processes, instances of actual or attempted fraud may come to light.  If so, these instances will be thoroughly investigated.

https://www.nvsos.gov/sos/Home/Components/News/News/2892/309?backlist=%2fsos

Secretary of State Press Release: How Ballot Status Works

“If you voted by mail in the 2020 general election and you login to the Secretary of State’s Registered Voter Services website or the BallotTrax website and you see your ballot status as mail ballot received instead of counted, this is not a cause for concern. Although most mail ballots in Nevada have already been tabulated, election results are unofficial until certification. This means the ballot counted status code may not be applied to your record until after certification. Certification must take place no later than November 16, and the data transfer from the county to the Secretary of State occurs the day following certification. As long as your mail ballot has been received by the county and the county has not notified you that you need a signature cure, there is no cause for concern.” Read more…

https://www.nvsos.gov/sos/Home/Components/News/News/2890/309?backlist=%2fsos

Clark County NV Ballots That Need to be Fixed

Please refer to this spreadsheet from the Clark County Election Department’s website to determine if you need to add or fix your signature on your mail-in ballot:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1PWen22PZL8meBHmPZsPGpxl8TlJixcSW8kXzT1CT7f8/edit?usp=sharing

If your name is on this list, please contact the Election Department right away:

Phone: (702) 455-VOTE (8683)

MailBallotRequest@ClarkCountyNV.gov

You only have through November 12th to fix your ballot.

Secretary of State Press Release: Addressing Post Election Questions

Secretary Cegavske Issues FAQ To Address Post-Election Questions

Post Date:11/04/2020 4:38 PM

Secretary of State Banner

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jennifer A. Russell
(775) 684-5793
SOSPIO@sos.nv.gov

(Carson City, NV; November 4, 2020) – Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske has released the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and answers to address post-election process questions about the 2020 General Election.

Why is it taking Nevada so long to count ballots?

The counting of ballots in Nevada is proceeding at the expected pace.  The timeline for counting ballots in Nevada comes from the legislatively approved process, and this process dictates that all properly received ballots will continue to be counted for up to nine days after the election.

Why did Nevada election officials stop counting ballots at the end of election night?

We did not stop counting ballots.  The counting of ballots is ongoing and will continue until every cast ballot is counted.

What ballots have been counted so far?

All in-person early votes, all in-person Election Day votes, and most of the mail ballots received before Election Day have been counted.  Unofficial election results are available here:  https://silverstateelection.nv.gov.

What ballots remain to be counted?

The remaining ballots that have not been counted include mail ballots received on or after Election Day and ballots cast by voters who registered to vote at the polling place (known as same-day voter registration).

How many ballots remain to be counted?

This number is unknown at this time.  Many counties received a large volume of mail ballots on Election Day, either dropped off at a ballot drop-off location or delivered via USPS, and the ballots are being sorted and processed today.  An update on ballots remaining to be counted will be provided when the information becomes available.

Why can’t the Secretary of State determine how many mail ballots are outstanding?

A mail ballot was automatically sent to all active registered voters in Nevada.  Also, state law allows ballots postmarked by Election Day to be received and counted after Election Day.  This combination means every registered voter who has not yet voted is a potential outstanding ballot.

When will the unofficial election results be updated?

Unofficial election results will be updated daily around 9:00 am starting on November 5.  One-off updates may occur from time-to-time.

Why won’t unofficial election results be updated more frequently than once a day?

The processing and counting of mail ballots is labor intensive, and additional reporting requirements would reduce the efficiency of the county election boards.

What is the last day a mail ballot can be received in the mail?

Mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day (November 3) and received no later than 5:00 pm on November 10 will be counted.  This means election officials will not know the final number of mail ballots cast until 5:00 pm on November 10.

What is the deadline for voters to cure their signature?

Voters who require a signature cure have until 5 p.m. on November 12 to provide the required signature confirmation.  Voters who successfully cure their signature by the deadline will have their ballot counted.

What is the deadline by which all mail ballots must be counted?

All mail ballots must be counted on or before November 12.  This deadline ensures that other processes, such as the signature cure process and the receipt of mail ballots postmarked by Election Day, can be completed and that all validly cast ballots will be counted.

When will election results become official?

Election results become official upon the canvass of the vote by the county election official.  The canvass of the vote must occur on or before November 16.  Until the canvass of the voter occurs, reported election results are unofficial. 

Why haven’t ballots cast by voters who registered to vote at the polling place (known as same-day voter registration) been counted?

In 2019, the Nevada Legislature authorized individuals to register to vote at a polling place, either during early voting or on Election Day, and then cast a ballot at the same time.  Because the county voter registration systems do not communicate with each other in real time, an individual who registers to vote at a polling place cannot be verified in real time as not having already voted in the election.  For this reason, state law allows for ballots cast be same-day registrants to be provisional ballots.  These provisional ballots are only counted after it is verified post-election that the voter has not voted more than once in the election.

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LWVN Election 2020 Update: What’s next?

Voters can drop-off mail-in ballots on Monday, Nov. 2nd, 2020, at their county’s election department.  You can find your county’s election department here:

https://www.nvsos.gov/sos/elections/voters/county-clerk-contact-information

We’ve added information about the Ballottax process for notifying voters of their mail-in ballot’s status to the Election Update page: https://lwvnvblog.org/updates-2020-general-election/

Election Results timeline:

The county clerks and registrars will report the number of verified votes cast and counted by the end of voting on Election Day. The end of voting will be when all counties have reported that all voters standing in line at all polling location have voted.

These results are only preliminary.

According to the law our legislature passed in August to manage this election’s processes, AB4, the county election departments will have 9 days after Election Day to reach out to voters who need to fix their mail-in ballots and to count all mail-in ballots mailed or dropped of by Election Day.

As votes are verified and counted each day after Election Day the county election departments may update their new preliminary vote totals. The final election results must be announced by November 16th, per AB4.