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Nevada Has a Voter Participation Problem. We Have an Easy Solution.

Nevada Welcome Sign
Nevada Welcome Sign
Tod Story,
Executive Director,
ACLU of Nevada
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September 20, 2018

UPDATE (11/06/2018): Question 5, the automatic voter registration initiative, passes. Eligible Nevada residents will automatically be registered to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license at the DMV or interact with other state agencies.

In Nevada, almost half a million eligible voters are not registered to vote.

In 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated there are 2.1 million eligible voters in Nevada, but only 79 percent are registered. Meanwhile, a 2017 Pew survey suggests less than 20 percent of Americans have been offered the opportunity to register to vote at the Department of Motor Vehicles, despite the National Voter Registration Act’s requirement that state governments ask everyone applying for or renewing a driver’s license.

And just last week, NPR reported that less than 5 percent of Las Vegans under 30 participated in the 2014 midterm elections.

Nevada can make a meaningful change by supporting Question 5, the Automatic Voter Registration Initiative. The ACLU of Nevada is throwing its full support behind the measure because we know automatic voter registration will make it easier for young people to register and vote, while helping secure our election system.

If Question 5 passes in November, eligible Nevada residents would automatically be registered to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license at the DMV or interact with other state agencies. Current voters and new Nevadans will have their registrations updated automatically when they change their addresses at the DMV, making life a little easier for everyone.

By making registration so much easier, AVR will help first-time voters, communities of color, people serving in the military, and residents in rural areas. Those who do not want to register can easily opt out.

Question 5 is a common sense policy solution, and the catalyst Nevada needs to modernize our paper voter registration systems. Implementation will require updated software that can secure Nevada’s voter information from outside interference, and streamlining the current DMV registration processes can eliminate duplicate entries and common errors that can cause headaches on Election Day, including changes of address.

Fourteen states, plus D.C., have a form of automatic voter registration in place currently, and we know that it’s having a positive effect. In Oregon, the first state to adopt such an initiative, studies show that more than 272,000 new people were added to the Oregon voter rolls, and more than 98,000 of them were new voters in the 2016 presidential election. Automatic voter registration also helped 40,000 disengaged voters register and participate in 2016.

Nevada voters should follow suit. The ACLU of Nevada is going to knock on tens of thousands of doors to mobilize support for the initiative.

Nevada’s population may be small, but we have a huge impact on our national elections because we’re an early and important election battleground state. Question 5 gives Nevada residents the opportunity to improve voter registration rates, secure our system, increase civic engagement, and make Nevada voices heard throughout the country.

For more information, visit Nevadans for Secure Elections.

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