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Voter access bill trekking through Senate with looser language – Las Vegas Sun

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Steve Marcus

Election clerk Mary Kay Bohlke catches up on the news while waiting for voters during primary voting at Green Valley High School in Henderson on Tuesday, June 12, 2012.

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Thursday, May 11, 2017 | 2 a.m.

CARSON CITY — State senators are taking up a looser version of a bill that seeks to expand voting access for primaries and general elections.

Assembly Bill 272 gives county and city clerks the ability to establish universal polling sites, allows early voting to extend through the Sunday before election day, and requires counties to set up polling places upon the request of tribes within their boundaries. It also allows for voting materials to be printed in Chinese languages.

The bill was heard Wednesday in the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee. Assemblyman Jason Frierson, D-Las Vegas, sponsored the bill, which passed out of the Assembly on April 25 with a 31-11 vote.

“This bill represents my effort, in its simplest terms, to encourage as many people who are eligible and interested in voting, to be able to vote,” he said.

Frierson said the bill has been amended with input from stakeholders. The bill’s current language uses “may” instead of “shall” in laying out the ability of counties to set up polling places for all voters.

“At the end of the day we don’t want to overly burden any particular registrar, any city or county clerk, we want to enable them to do a job that is flexible but inclusive,” Frierson said. “The original bill had much more mandatory language and this bill that we have here today at this point reflects a permissive nature that I think has accommodated all the needs of many of the stakeholders.”

The bill allows early voting through Sunday instead of the Friday before election day. Frierson said the permissive language in the current bill means that counties that need to can still use the weekend to move equipment.

Frierson said the bill reflects work with urban and rural registrars statewide. Several who spoke at the Wednesday hearing acknowledged Frierson’s work with stakeholders to make sure the bill could be implemented where possible.

People from Native and Asian-American groups also spoke in favor of the bill, which drew no opposition Wednesday.

Lawmakers are approaching another committee passage deadline set for May 19.

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