Video: Learn How To Engage With Nevada Legislature

On Jan. 28, LEAN advocate Bill Ledford led an informative Zoom session on how to use public online tools to follow legislation making its way through the 2021 Nevada legislative session, and the best ways to stay in touch with the lawmaking process and reach out to your assemblypersons and senators. Special guest, Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod, talks about the importance of keeping engaged with government on behalf of our fellow citizens, as Christians and Lutherans.

Watch the complete video of the presentation here:

Join LEAN For Nevada Legislature Primer

Zoom Event Shows How To Connect With Lawmakers, Follow Bills

Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN), a statewide faith-based organization that advocates for just and fair legislation and public policy for all Nevadans, will host a special Zoom workshop as the 2021 Nevada Legislature prepares to open its bi-annual session on February 1. “Connecting with the Nevada Legislature 101:  Advocating for our Neighbor as Lutherans” takes place on Thursday, January 28 at 2 p.m.

LEAN speaks at the Legislature through its Advocate, Bill Ledford, on matters that affect the most vulnerable in our state and in relation to the ELCA statements about social justice as decided by its board members. LEAN also strives to educate parishioners on the issues and on ways to be engaged, effective citizens. 

Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod

In this workshop, participants will:

• Hear from our Bishop Deborah Hutterer of the Grand Canyon Synod, on calling Christians to speak publicly on behalf of “the least of these my brothers and sisters.”

• Learn how you can find your way around the Nevada Legislature website

• Learn where to find potential new laws being presented this session 

• How to effectively communication with legislators

• Grow in seeing how the ELCA Social Statements guide LEAN’s advocacy efforts

Click here to join this engaging event on Zoom.

Meeting ID: 850 3440 4792
Passcode: 629332
If calling in by phone, click here to find your local number.  

Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada is a partnership effort of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), through the Division for Church in Society (the Division) and the Grand Canyon and Sierra Pacific Synods.

Election Zoom Gatherings Slated

Note: The following was featured in the October 14, 2020 edition of the Sierra Pacific Synod newsletter.

In November, the people of the United States will elect a president and others to public office. This election occurs at a time of change in our national and church life, a time when the Holy Spirit is at work in mysterious ways, and a time when many of our relationships are being changed and challenged.

This election occurs in a time of global pandemic, racial injustice, economic hardship, sickness, suffering, loss and death. For many, this election also occurs in a time of great divisions between family, friends and neighbors.

These divisions can seem deep, wide and potentially injurious to our democracy and our sense of community.

As people of faith, claimed by Jesus, we believe that the role of the church is to support and pray for the well-being of the world, for wise leaders to be raised up, and no matter what the outcome that we will be given the gift of “peace that passes all understanding that guards our hearts and minds through Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)

Region 2 bishops and leaders – the Sierra Pacific, Pacifica, Southwest California, Rocky Mountain and Grand Canyon Synods of the ELCA – invite all who wish to gather for a time of prayer and reflection to join us as we pray for our nation, for those seeking office, for God’s beloved community, and for rostered ministers as they seek to lead in their specific contexts during these conflicted times.

These livestream gatherings will be:

Sunday, November 1 – 6:00 pm PST

Thursday, November 5 – 6:00 pm PST

Note: Pastors and deacons are invited to open conversation via ZOOM immediately following the Thursday prayer service. You may register HERE.

LEAN Says ‘Yes’ On Question 4

Add Voters’ Bill Of Rights To Nevada Constitution

A number of years ago, when LEAN was LAMN (Lutheran Advocacy and Ministry in Nevada), the organization published a “voter guide” that considered each election’s nonpartisan ballot questions in light of the ELCA Social Statements. That habit has fallen into disuse due to reorganizations and personnel changes, though it may be revived in the future.

However, this election year, voting is such a hot topic that the LEAN advisory board decided to highlight one Nevada ballot question.

Ballot Question 4 proposes enshrining in the Nevada Constitution a “Voters’ Bill of Rights,” to ensure that Nevadans will always be able to raise their voices and votes.

All Nevadans are struggling with how to vote safely in this unusual election year. Though special procedures are in place to ensure everyone can vote—including historically marginalized people—the pandemic, a special legislative session, and a few lawsuits, the rules have spurred several changes, so it’s hard to know what to do.

In the midst of all the chaos, which is similar to what is happening all across the country, the ELCA Church Council issued a Social Message titled, “Government and Civic Engagement in the United States: Discipleship in a Democracy.”  (Social Messages are second in rank behind Social Statements in terms of official church teaching.) The Message notes that fewer than 20 percent of people trust government to do the right thing, but also says that it’s part of the Lutheran vocation to get involved, to not just stand back and be cynical.  The Message encourages many types of involvement, but recognizes that for many people, voting may be the only act of engagement, and that it is very powerful: “This church strongly affirms voting, guided by faith-based values, as an exercise in citizenship.”  It also notes that “We have the responsibility to raise our voices and votes against misuse of government.”

This Voters’ Bill of Rights already exists in Nevada law—it’s been there since 2002. In 2017 the Nevada Legislature proposed the rights be enshrined in the Constitution.  The proposal was confirmed unanimously in 2019. 

The Bill of Rights is a list of eleven items which are not controversial:

  • Receive and cast a ballot that is written in a format that allows the clear identification of candidates and accurately records the voter’s selection of candidates.
  • Have questions concerning voting procedures answered and have an explanation of the procedures for voting posted conspicuously at the polling place.
  • Vote without being intimidated, threatened, or coerced.
  • Vote during any period of early voting or on Election Day if the voter has not yet voted and, at the time that the polls close, the voter is waiting in line to vote at a polling place at which, by law, the voter is entitled to vote.
  • Return a spoiled ballot and receive a replacement ballot.
  • Request assistance with voting, if needed.
  • Receive a sample ballot that is accurate, informative, and delivered in a timely manner as provided by law.
  • Receive instruction on the use of voting equipment during any period of early voting or on Election Day.
  • Have equal access to the elections system without discrimination.
  • Have a uniform, statewide standard for counting and recounting all votes accurately as provided by law.
  • Have complaints about elections and election contests resolved fairly, accurately, and efficiently as provided by law.

Because they’ve been the law for nearly twenty years, placing these provisions into the Constitution will add no expense to the state budget.

In light of ELCA teachings, the LEAN advisory board and officers recommend a “yes” vote on Question 4.

Negotiating Nevada’s 2020 General Election

Though Nevada’s recent primary election was all by mail and went well, all-mail elections are not the new normal in Nevada, and if voters want to continue mailing their ballots, they have to request an absentee ballot, and they can make that request permanent. Well, as we all know, these are not normal times, so election procedures have changed again.

The second Special Session of the Nevada Legislature passed AB 4, and there’s a lot of confusion about it. Here’s what you need to know:

1. If you requested an absentee ballot, you don’t need to do anything. You will receive a paper ballot that you can mark and return, either by mail or by delivering it to the County Registrar. Also, there’s another option, explained below.

2. If you have not requested an absentee ballot, you’ll get a mail-in ballot anyway. Again, these are not normal times, and AB 4 authorizes all-mail elections in times when the Governor has declared a state of emergency. Such a state is in place as preparations are made for the election, so the emergency rule of mail for everyone applies. However, if America ever gets back to “normal” times, Nevada goes back to the regular rules, and voting by mail will be via absentee ballot only.

3. Only active, registered voters will receive a ballot in the mail. This is different from the primary and designed to save the cost of sending ballots that are undeliverable or will not be used. A registered voter is one whose information is on file with the County Registrar, whose identity was verified at registration, etc. An active voter is one whose address is valid. So, it is possible to be a registered voter but not be active because the Registrar does not have a good address for you. There is a place on the Secretary of State website to check your address and correct anything that’s wrong. Go to “Active” is not related to when you last voted, so if you did not vote in the primary, or haven’t voted for years, you’ll still get a ballot in the mail so long as you’re registered and your address is good.

4. Although it’s very much discouraged, you can ask someone to hand deliver or mail your ballot for you. Anyone can do this—you don’t have to be disabled and it doesn’t have to be a family member who does it for you. However, if the helper fails to deliver the ballot, or does it after November 3, you’re out of luck—your vote doesn’t count.

5. There will still be in-person voting sites, just like there were for the primary. AB 4 addresses the long lines at the polls in June by setting a minimum number of locations for both early voting and election day. Clark County will have at least 35 early voting in person locations, and at least 100 vote centers on election day. (According to the Secretary of State, Clark is planning 159 centers.) Washoe County is required to have at least 15 early voting locations and 25 vote centers on election day. The smaller counties must have at least one early voting site and at least one vote center on election day. An important note: If you wish to vote in person, you still need to bring in and surrender your mail-in ballot. Then you’ll vote as usual.

6. There has been a lot of concern about voter fraud. The Secretary of State has set up elaborate procedures that are uniform across the state to combat this. Every voter’s signature is on file with the Secretary of State. Every voter must sign the transmittal envelope when they return their ballot. The two are compared before the ballot is counted, and if they don’t match, a letter goes out. If you get such a letter, it’s important to respond, and you can do so online and several other ways. Failure to “cure” a question about whether it was you who filled out the ballot will result in the ballot being disqualified. People have wondered whether a person could vote by mail and then go to a polling site and vote again. Procedures to prevent multiple votes have been in place for a long time. When you check in at a polling site, they call up your name on a statewide database, and if you already mailed a ballot or already voted across town, it will show up.

7. It is not true that there is a grace period to mail a ballot after November 3. Ballots must be postmarked (or delivered) not later than November 3. The Registrar will continue to accept mailed ballots for three days after election day, but only those bearing a November 3 postmark. The grace period is to allow the post office to do its part.

There is a lot of misinformation circulating. LEAN encourages everyone to be engaged with the candidates and the issues, but avoid spreading confusion about the process. Anyone who has concerns should call or visit their County Registrar or look at the Secretary of State website. That’s the place for authoritative, up-to-date information.

The main thing is do vote, and do so no later than November 3.