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Voting rights group threatens Nevada with possible DMV lawsuit

CARSON CITY — Voting rights advocates said Monday they have sent a pre-litigation notice letter to Nevada officials, warning that the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles is failing to meet its federally mandated voter registration obligations.

Attorneys representing Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and Nevada resident Eleanor Newell sent the letter to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and Terri L. Albertson, director of the DMV.

The attorneys are threatening litigation if the state does not comply with the law.

The Department of Motor Vehicles makes voters jump through too many hoops to get and stay registered,” said Ben Monterroso, executive director of Mi Familia Vota Education Fund. “The State of Nevada should be making it easier, not harder, for citizens to participate in the democratic process.”

The NVRA, or Motor Voter Law, was passed by Congress to increase the number of registered voters by greatly expanding registration opportunities, including simultaneous procedures for driver’s licensing and voter registration. Under the law, a driver’s license application or renewal must also serve as a voter registration application.

As the letter outlines, the Nevada DMV is violating federal law by requiring applicants to complete an entirely separate voter registration application, one that requests much of the same information already provided on the driver’s license application.

The letter noted the attorneys’ and clients’ desire to meet with Cegavske and Albertson as soon as possible to develop a comprehensive plan for compliance. Under the NVRA, the parties may file a lawsuit if the issue is not resolved within 90 days.

In response to the letters, Cegavske said in a statement: “Our office is currently reviewing the information and is looking into the issues raised in the letters. Our office has been communicating with the DMV for several months to establish a time line for the modernization of the DMV’s voter registration system and is working towards a solution.”

The Nevada secretary of state’s office is committed to ensuring all Nevadans have the opportunity to register to vote in accordance with federal law, she said.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801.

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