Sandoval opposes early voter registration bill

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Friday that he opposes an Democrat-passed Assembly bill that would allow voters to register as close as three days before elections.

“Under the current system, Nevadans have ample time to register and vote, including registering online and voting early or absentee,” said Sandoval through his press secretary, Mary-Sarah Kinner.

The governor’s opposition dooms Assembly Bill 440 for this session.

The bill passed the Assembly on Tuesday by a 25-16 party-line vote. In the Senate, Democrats hold an 11-10 advantage and could pass the bill. But Democrats lack the two-thirds majority needed in both houses to override a governor veto.

Under the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman James Ohrenschall, D-Las Vegas, and backed by Secretary of State Ross Miller, Nevadans would be able to register online and in registrars’ offices up to 5 p.m. Friday before Tuesday elections. That is about two weeks later than current law. They could participate in early voting, which is conducted in the two weeks before election day.

The requirement that people must register at least 30 days before elections if they register by mail would not change.

Nevada led the nation in November with its 4.5 percentage point increase in voting. Ohrenschall said that growth could continue because witnesses testified that still more than 50 percent of the people qualified to vote in Nevada do not register.

“I am disappointed in the governor,” he said. “We took out Election Day registration, which he opposed. I hope he reconsiders. A lot of people get excited when the debates start. They should be allowed to vote if they are qualified and haven’t registered. Every election season, I meet people who are qualified to vote but for some reason or other missed the registration deadline.”

Deputy Secretary of State Scott Gilles agreed. “I imagine a lot of people would take advantage of the later deadline. A large portion of the population doesn’t get involved in elections until the very end. That is the best time to engage people.”

He said online and in-person registration automatically are checked through Department of Department of Motor Vehicles records so chances of fraudulent voting would be reduced.

If the bill becomes law, then Nevada would have the latest voter registration deadline except for the 11 states that allow Election Day registration. Most of those are Republican states, such as Idaho and Wyoming .

Gilles said if legislators back Senate Bill 63 — Miller’s bill in which prospective voters driver’s license photos would be placed in electronic poll books — then enough checks would be in place to have Election Day registration with ample security.

This bill, which would cost $800,000 to more than $4 million to implement, now is resting in the Senate Finance Committee and waiting for further examination of its costs.

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