First, I’ll cover a little information about absentee ballots, then I’ll write about an online resource that’s putting Nevada at the forefront of the industry for military and overseas citizens.

If a voter is unable to make it to the polls or just prefers to mark their ballot from the comfort of home or office – request and absentee ballot. Historically a voter needed an excuse to request and absent ballot but those times are long gone (in most states). Nevada is a “no excuse required” absentee ballot state and voters can request an absentee ballot with no reason required. And the best part is that return postage is pre-paid by the local election office.

Voters in Nevada can request and absentee ballot by printing, signing, and returning the one-page form available on the websites for the Washoe County Registrar of Voters or the Secretary of State. The form to request and absentee ballot must be received by your local election office before the close of business on November 1st. Completed absentee ballots must be received by your local election office before the close of polls on Election Day (7pm PT, on 11/8/2016).

As an industry first, Nevada has received national recognition for the innovative Effective Absentee System for Elections. Known as “EASE”, the online resource utilizes procedures afforded to military and overseas citizens to create a one stop shop for voter registration, absent ballot requests, and ballot delivery to the voter. So what makes EASE unique?

For starters, as a one stop shop, EASE seamlessly integrates voter registration, requesting an absent ballot and delivery of an absent ballot into a single online process available 24/7. Normally this requires a voter to engage in multiple communications with their local election office to register, request, mark, and return their absent ballot. Next, EASE makes is possible for a user to complete the process entirely online. This is the key benefit, considering that voters need to sign their documents and that resources such as a printer and scanner (when transmitting electronically), or mail delivery might not be readily available. This is especially true for deployed members of the military and National Guard.

Members of the military, their families, and overseas citizens can transmit receive and return their election materials electronically, per federal and state laws. This significantly reduced the number of ballots rejected due to missing deadline and signature issues. EASE reduces the number of rejected ballots even more by eliminating multiple correspondences with a local election office as well as the need for access to a printer and scanner. EASE achieves this through a simultaneous process and applying an image of the user’s signature, on file with the local election office/DMV, on the user’s election documents.

Nevada’s EASE resource was recently selected as one of four finalists for the IDEAS award by the National Association of Secretaries of State for significant state contributions to the industry. For more information about EASE, including a PowerPoint demonstration, please visit the Secretary of State’s webpage about the system, or contact me directly at 684-5650.

Justus Wendland is a member of the Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals Network and works for the Nevada Secretary of State™s office. Before moving to Nevada in 2012, Justus worked in the same capacity in the Montana Secretary of State™s office to ensure state election and voting laws are compliant with Federal regulations.