Nevada Secretary of State teams up with veterans to keep elections safe

Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar, right, speaks with retired US Air Force veteran Phillip Davis about becoming a poll worker on Friday, April 26, 2024 at the Grant Sawyer State Office Building in Las Vegas. (Photo credit: Casey Harrison/The Nevadan)

By Casey Harrison

April 26, 2024

The new partnership with Vet the Vote is looking for veterans and military family members across Nevada to volunteer to help administer the 2024 election.

The Nevada Secretary of State’s office has unveiled a new partnership that aims to give military veterans and their families a new mission for the public good: Signing up as a poll worker to help administer the 2024 election.

The partnership with the nonprofit organization Vet the Vote was formally announced Friday at a news conference at the Grant Sawyer State Office building in downtown Las Vegas. It’s the latest attempt by Nevada Secretary of State Francisco Aguilar to attract potential poll workers ahead of the June 11 statewide primary and Nov. 5 general election.

“This is an opportunity, and we need their help, because veterans make for great poll workers,” said Aguilar, a Democrat. “By signing up to be poll workers, veterans and military family members can continue in this tradition and help ensure our elections continue to be sound, transparent, and accessible.”

Vet the Vote’s sole mission is to mobilize veterans and their families to volunteer as election workers, executive director Dan Vallone told reporters at the event. The group trained more than 63,000 people during the 2022 election cycle to become poll workers—and the hope for this election is to have more than 100,000 trained by November, Vallone said.

“The country needs veterans and military family members to serve again,” Vallone said. “We are, as a nation, increasingly concerned about threats abroad, and we feel as if we’re being pulled apart here at home. And so we need those veterans and their family members to join with their neighbors and communities to show what it means for Americans from all backgrounds and all views to work together for a common purpose.”

Retired Vietnam War airman Phillip Davis, 70, told The Nevadan that ever since retiring, he had been looking for ways to stay involved with the community. The North Las Vegas resident said he learned about Vet the Vote in 2016 and has volunteered to work the last two presidential elections.

“It’s something that I feel proud to do,” Davis said. “There are some good people out there, and there are some nasty people that just don’t understand the system. But, as a whole, everybody is nice.”

Aguilar was elected in 2022 and ran on a platform of expanding voter access and increasing transparency with constituents. And while Aguilar’s office has begun a series of administrative changes his office says will help the first presidential election under his tenure go more smoothly, he added it’s also essential to start building a robust network of volunteers to work the polls.

RELATED: Voter fraud virtually nonexistent in Nevada, report shows

Aguilar’s office was a driving force in advocating for a bill signed into law last year by Gov. Joe Lombardo that establishes criminal penalties for threatening or harassing an election worker. The need for such a bill became apparent after clerks across Nevada’s 17 counties had trouble retaining and hiring new staff members amid a surge of threatening messages following the 2020 and 2022 elections, Aguilar said.

Many of those threats, Aguilar has previously said, stemmed from supporters of former President Donald Trump and his repeated echoing of false claims that elections in Nevada and other swing states were “rigged” against him. Official election results from the 2020 race show Trump lost to Biden in Nevada by about 2.4 percentage points, or roughly 34,000 votes.

“Nevada is taking a really strategic approach to poll workers,” Aguilar said. “One, in making sure that poll workers are safe and they feel safe in the environment where they’re working. But also giving them the actual protections they need.”

How to sign up as a poll worker

While the Clark County Election Department is seeking volunteers for all positions, Clark County Registrar of Voters Lorena Portillo said the agency especially needs workers fluent in English and either Spanish, Filipino, or Mandarin Chinese. In addition to seeking workers for Election Day, poll workers are also needed during the two early voting periods for the June primary and November general elections, Aguilar said.

Early voting for the June 11 primary runs from May 25-June 7, while the early voting window for the Nov. 5 general is from Oct. 19-Nov. 1. Poll workers who work on Election Day will receive a flat rate of $200, while those who work during the early voting period will be paid $17 per hour.

In either instance, poll workers are required to attend a one-time training session and will receive a $50 bonus after doing so. Poll workers must be a registered voter and must be at least 16 years of age (poll workers under 16 don’t need to be registered to vote). Neither candidates, their relatives, nor partisan poll watchers are eligible.

Clark County residents interested in becoming a poll worker are encouraged to email [email protected] or call 702-455-2815. Specific roles can be found online at https://clarkcountynv.gov/electionopportunities.

“We are always looking for good election workers,” Portillo said. “Every single one is important to the process.”

  • Casey Harrison

    Casey Harrison is political correspondent for The Nevadan. Previously, he covered politics and the Oakland Athletics' relocation to Southern Nevada for the Las Vegas Sun, and before that, was a digital producer at The Detroit News. Casey graduated from Michigan State University in 2019.

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