Monday, Oct. 29, 2012 | 2:02 a.m.
Voters are turning out for early voting in record numbers, and state and county election officials and their staffs are doing everything possible to ensure an elections process that is convenient for voters while maintaining the integrity and transparency needed to make the process work.
I am very proud of Nevada’s well-earned reputation for fair, efficient and well-run elections, and 2012 will be no exception. The key to maintaining those standards is vigilance by elections officials and voters.
In many polling places, voters may see election observers and poll-watchers from the respective political parties or from other interested groups. In a system that requires transparency, observers are an important part of the democratic process, and our law allows them to monitor the voting process.
As a voter, you should know that poll observers have no legal right to interfere with voting and are prohibited from taking photos, speaking to you, using mobile phones or devices, or conducting any electioneering in the polling place.
By law, they may not and must not interfere with the conduct of voting in any way.
It remains my policy to aggressively enforce all of our voting laws and regulations whether they apply to fraud, voter suppression or any other activity that might affect the integrity of our system.
While I do not expect problems, anyone who does not comply with the basic rules of polling place observation rules will be removed from the site by law enforcement.
No voter intimidation of any kind will be tolerated, and violators will face serious criminal penalties. Frivolous challenges to voters, including those that are made arbitrarily or outside the specific guidelines of the law, will be subject to prosecution.
Those specific guidelines include the requirements that anyone challenging the right of another to vote must have personal knowledge of the facts supporting the challenge, and the challenger must be registered to vote in the same precinct as the voter being challenged.
In most circumstances, a challenged voter may still cast a ballot after filling out an affidavit of his or her own or providing other information at the polls.
Nevada’s Multi-jurisdictional Elections Integrity Task Force is a nationally recognized model for enforcing our elections laws. But like any law enforcement effort, informed public involvement is a necessary element in its success.
I strongly encourage anyone with knowledge of any election law violation to contact my office through our Elections Division hotline at (775) 684-5705 or through our website, www.nvsos.gov, where they will find an elections integrity complaint form that can be submitted online.
It’s not enough to simply know that you have a right to vote. There’s also a responsibility to know how to exercise and protect that right.
Our polling place team leaders work hard to ensure every eligible voter has access to the polls. They’re providing an invaluable service to our communities.
When you vote, do so knowing that we all are working to maintain the integrity of the system. And take a moment to thank them for their service.
Ross Miller is secretary of state, Nevada’s chief election official.