CARSON CITY — Secretary of State Ross Miller told lawmakers Thursday that his plan to include a photo of each registered voter in new electronic poll books would improve ballot access and not disenfranchise voters.
Miller testified on behalf of his election modernization efforts contained in Senate Bill 63, which was heard by the Senate Legislative Operations and Elections Committee.
Miller said the photo element of his plan would provide further assurance to Nevadans that there is no voter fraud being committed in the state.
It would not require voters to present identification to vote and would ensure that every voter would have the opportunity to cast a ballot, he said.
Miller contrasted his proposal with voter ID proposals that have been implemented in other states. Assembly Bill 216, a voter ID bill, was introduced earlier this month by Assemblyman Ira Hansen, R-Sparks. It has not yet been set for a hearing.
Miller said under his bill, “there is not a single instance where you would be required to produce a piece of plastic at the polls before you are able to exercise your constitutional right to vote. Because we have shifted the onus of verifying the voter from the individual ... over to the government.”
The potential cost of the proposal became an issue in the hearing.
Miller said in an updated fiscal note for his proposal released several weeks ago that the statewide cost would be about $787,200 for the 2014 election cycle. Most of the cost is because of the need to buy laptop computers for each polling location in the state.
But a fiscal note submitted by Clark County estimates the plan would cost about $3.2 million.
The proposal saw support from some groups, including the League of Women Voters of Nevada.
Sam King, representing the group, said it supports legislation that protects the integrity of the election process.
“The right to vote, no, the privilege to vote, is precious,” she said. “To ask for confirmation is very reasonable.”
But it drew opposition, including from the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP.
Richard Boulware, first vice president of the organization, said he is concerned the requirement would disenfranchise voters.
The history of discrimination of minority and poor voters nationally shows that identification laws unfairly affect these communities, he said.
“All this law can do is potentially increase substantially the disenfranchisement and suppression of votes in the minority community,” Boulware said. “This law is a solution in search of a problem.”
Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 775-687-3900