In Nevada, the best defense against voter suppression is a good offense

Let America Vote-Nevada intern Deuce gives a field orientation to new volunteers.

By Martin Fitzgerland, state director, Let America Vote-Nevada

I get asked all the time why Let America Vote set up shop in Nevada when there are so many other states facing egregious, headline-grabbing voter suppression campaigns.

The answer is pretty simple. Advancing pro-democracy policies can be a very effective way to keep voter suppression from taking hold in a state. It’s kind of like the saying that the best defense is a good offense.

Nevada is one of the best examples of a state that has a real chance to strengthen its democracy this November.

Let America Vote-Nevada State Director Martin Fitzgerald

But while Nevada is on the verge of leading in pro-democracy reform, it would be unwise to assume GOP politicians aren’t still trying to suppress the vote in the Silver State.

Nevadans saw the latest example of that scheming just last month.

On June 15, the Associated Press reported that the Nevada Secretary of State’s office would investigate how to initiate a voter purge that could knock thousands of eligible voters off the registration rolls. The move followed the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Husted v. A. Philip Randolph Institute, an Ohio case that affirmed states’ ability to pursue this bald-faced voter-suppression technique.

Such a step is totally unnecessary in Nevada — unless your objective is to disenfranchise eligible voters.

The state already has a robust system to determine whether a citizen has moved within or between states, one drawing on data from the postal service, the department of motor vehicles and other sources to keep voter rolls up-to-date.

So why would the Republican secretary of state try to purge from the rolls eligible voters merely because they were unable or declined to vote?

Pure politics: Research from Ohio shows low-income, minority and Democratic-leaning voters were disproportionately disenfranchised by the voter purge — tens or even hundreds of thousands of them.

This new interest in voter purges represents Nevada Republicans’  latest foray into voter suppression efforts, but certainly not the last.

And it’s why Let America Vote is here. We know that a threat to democracy anywhere is a threat to democracy everywhere, and we’re not going to stand for it.

LAV-Nevada has recruited more than 30 interns to meet voters one-on-one in support of candidates who have proven themselves to be voting-rights champions. These interns are knocking doors in 110-degree heat, recruiting volunteers and engaging with citizens on apps and social media.

We’re getting back to the very basics of grassroots politics, but even there we’re finding ways to innovate. We’re taking a new approach to organizing in Clark County, home to Las Vegas and 70 percent of Nevada’s population.

Our Neighbor-to-Neighbor program is a grassroots effort in which passionate volunteers invite their friends, families, and — you guessed it — neighbors into their homes to strategize the best way to maximize resources and effectively advocate for voting rights.

Since we’ve started the program in late June, almost 50 Nevadans have donated their time and effort to the cause of voting rights. From knocking doors and making phone calls to donating water, sunscreen and clipboards, we’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of support from the community. As a result, LAV-Nevada has been able to knock 11,000 doors in less than a month.

Together, our interns and volunteers are harnessing the rising wave of progressive grassroots energy and focusing it on the effort that will make the biggest difference on Election Day: direct voter contact.

Talking to voters one-on-one about the candidates and issues that affect Nevadans’ lives is what Let America Vote does everyday. And that’s exactly the kind of grassroots activism that will elect voting-rights champions and resist Republicans’ suppression schemes.

To join our fight text SILVER STATE to 44939. No matter where you are, you can make a difference in our effort in Nevada and across the country.