In states that are controlled by Republicans in 2017, I fully expect to see efforts to completely end early voting altogether, and Nevada is going to be the reason why.
Michael McDonald, the chair of the Nevada Republican Party, complained at a rally on Saturday that “certain people” had the opportunity to vote. According to CNN, McDonald “was referring to a polling location in Clark County, which is 30% Hispanic and the county in which Las Vegas is located.”
Video of McDonald’s remarks were captured by Correct the Record, a group which supports Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy.
In the video, McDonald complains that “in Clark County, they kept a poll open ’til 10 o’clock at night so a certain group could vote,” even though “the polls are supposed to close at 7.” It is, indeed, true that polling places were kept open past the stated 7pm closing time, but not for the nefarious reason that McDonald suggests.
It is a standard practice during elections to allow anyone who was in line prior to closing time to cast a ballot, so that no one is disenfranchised because they failed to anticipate their neighbors’ interest in the election. In Nevada, Latino turnout is unusually high — an ominous sign for Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has campaigned on his overt racism towards people of Mexican descent. This has led to long lines at some polling places with large numbers of Latino voters.
On Friday night, for example, hundreds of voters were still in line at 9pm at a Mexican grocery store which served as a polling place in Las Vegas. So long as these voters took their spot in line before 7pm, however, they were allowed to vote.
Mr. Trump, for his part, attributed the later closing times to some kind of conspiracy during a rally in Reno. “It’s being reported that certain key Democratic polling locations in Clark County,” the Republican candidate claimed, “were kept for hours and hour beyond closing time to bus and bring and [SIC] Democratic voters in.”
Whether Clinton wins Nevada on Tuesday (and I think she'll win handily) expect Republicans to stop with the subtle dog whistles and get out the Trump bullhorns starting Wednesday to equate early voting with voting fraud. Hell, don't be surprised by a push for federal legislation to set "common sense national voting standards" either. National voter ID/end early voting laws will be the new rallying point in 2018 midterms.
Watch. When it becomes clear that Republicans were done in for the third presidential election in a row by early voting, they will seek to eliminate it completely as "saving an undue burden on taxpayers", especially when it becomes clear that the Latino voters the GOP were courting have utterly turned against them.
It will be time to punish Clinton supporters, just as the last eight years have been a concerted GOP effort to punish Obama supporters.