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John L. Smith On Nevada's Role In Mail-In Voting This November

This week, Nevada joined a growing list of states suing the federal government over the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the U.S. Postal Service. 


Postmaster General Louis Dejoy has now said he will stop efforts to downsize and dismantle parts of the postal service. This comes as the fall election will rely heavily on mail-in ballots. 


But congressional Democrats grilled DeJoy on Monday during a House hearing that became acrimonious at times.

Dejoy defended his management of the Postal Service, while Democrats on House Oversight Committee questioned him about his commitment to handling the expected surge in ballots during the election and about the impact a slow down in mail service has had on people who rely on it for medications and other vital deliveries.

Republicans, on the other hand, scoffed at the idea that Dejoy was carrying out President Trump's wishes because the president believes, with no evidence, that mail-in balloting is ripe for fraud.

Contributor John L. Smith believes Nevada has the potential to play a big role in the mail-in balloting issue. The Trump campaign has filed a suit against Nevada's mail-in ballot law passed by the Legislature during a special session this past summer.

Smith said that judges around the country have already started to weigh in on the issue, 

“They’re determining that without proof or some kind of evidence of voter fraud that this going to blowback on the folks who are litigating this issue,” he said.

In Nevada and other states, people are concerned about standing in line because of the pandemic, Smith noted.

A study by the Heritage Foundation found around 1,200 instances of voter fraud since the 1980s. 

Smith said this whole thing could be written off as election-year politics; however, there is more to the president's attack.

"Without current evidence of some kind of conspiracy or plan, the fact is, when you start to pull apart the United States Postal Service, taking out sorting machines, and that sort of thing, it is kind of a tell when you have a president who making much out of something that it isn’t based in fact,” he said.

He said the lack of evidence will hurt the people trying to litigate the president's point of view.

“There is, so far, no there there,” Smith said.

As for the Postal Service, Smith explained that it is an independent agency.

"[Dejoy]'s service should be to 600,000 postal workers who work throughout the country, who move the greatest number of mail any place on the planet,” he said.

The Postal Service loses money every year and has for a long time, which Dejoy, who has a business background and no background in the post office, would want to reverse, Smith said.

Smith said there are advantages to mail-in ballots and Oregon has done it successfully for years. But if the USPS isn't moving at top speed, there are questions.

“But, when you have cutbacks, as Dejoy has done, cutting back overtime, and literally taking trucks off the street and taking post boxes off the corner, you’ve got some real questions to be answered,” he said.


The Republican National Convention kicks off Monday night - virtually. The Democratic National Convention did the same thing last week.

Smith has attended both RNC and DNC events in the past. He calls them "festive toothaches," for being both interesting and gleeful but crowded and logistical nightmares.

This year watching and listening to the DNC last week Smith was pleased to note that he could hear the speakers.

“The undercard speakers, if you will, are not always well listened to," he said, “You have some advantages to that kind of close circuit Zoom convention that we’re watching.”

There were a number of Nevadans featured at the DNC, including State Senator Yvanna Cancela. 

“She is very well-liked inside the party. She’s a dynamic personality. She speaks well. She has a great background. She also fits a lot of the demographics of the new Democratic Party. She’s obviously very close with the Culinary Union,” Smith said.

To cap all that off, former Senator Harry Reid, who held the controls of the so-called Reid Machine in Nevada for many years, likes Cancela a lot, Smith said.

Smith believes she has the potential to be a big voice in the national Democratic Party.

As for the future of the convention, Smith believes this year's event could be a model for the event going forward.

“I hate to see it fade away completely because it’s a bit like the old state fair. Not everyone goes to the state fair, and in Nevada, it is harder to find an agricultural section than it is in Iowa. Part of the state fair is that it’s a little bit hokey but it’s an awful lot of fun and I think that conventions represent that,” he said.

There are more Democrats registered to vote in Nevada than Republicans, but Smith is still reluctant to predict that Biden will take the state in November.

“However, when you start to see the level of chicanery, I’ll call it, on the part of the Trump Administration with the Postal Service and all of that. There are desperate times for the incumbent and there are apparently desperate measures as well," he said, "And so, when you see that, you have to believe that anything is possible and that with litigation already being filed on both sides, you have to feel like the state Democratic Party is going to want to leave nothing to chance."

John L. Smith, contributor

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Joe Schoenmann joined Nevada Public Radio in 2014. He works with a talented team of producers at State of Nevada who explore the casino industry, sports, politics, public health and everything in between.