Senate committee to vote on DMV registration proposal
By SANDRA CHEREB
REVIEW-JOURNAL CAPITAL BUREAU
CARSON CITY — Supporters of a measure to automatically submit voter registration applications when people conduct certain transactions at the Department of Motor Vehicles said the change would modernize Nevada’s election system and make registering to vote easier.
But others raised potential conflicts with the Automatic Voter Registration Initiative, or IP1, should a person “opt out” of registering but then fill out the application.
During testimony Monday before the Senate Committee on Legislative Operations and Elections, Nevada DMV Director Terri Albertson questioned whether IP1 conflicts with federal law. Federal law gives a person the option to register to vote at DMV offices, while IP1 automatically sends information to election officials unless someone specifically declines.
But Kevin Powers, constitutional lawyer for the Legislative Counsel Bureau, said the state measure is not prohibited under federal law.
State Sen. Nicole Cannizzaro, D-Las Vegas and chairwoman of the committee, scheduled a vote on the measure Wednesday. It would then go to the Senate floor.
The measure would amend Nevada law to require the Department of Motor Vehicles to transmit information to the secretary of state’s office and county clerks to register people who obtain, renew or change an address on a driver’s license or identification card.
People would have to “opt out” of registering by checking a box saying they do not want to register to vote.
Proponents last year gathered enough signatures to send the initiative to lawmakers, who have 40 days to act or it automatically will be on the 2018 ballot.
It passed the Assembly on a 27-15 party-line vote, and passage by the Senate is expected. It would then go to Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval, whose actions will be key.
If Sandoval signs it, the measure will take effect Jan. 1 and could significantly increase the number of registered voters in Nevada before the 2018 election. If Sandoval vetoes it, it’s unlikely the Democratic majority in each house could muster the two-thirds required for an override.
In that case, it would not become a factor until the 2020 election, provided it is approved by voters next year.
Contact Sandra Chereb at email@example.com or 775-461-3821. Follow@SandraChereb on Twitter.