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Sandoval waiting for details about alleged voter fraud in Nevada

Updated April 17, 2017 - 10:47 pm

CARSON CITY — Gov. Brian Sandoval said Monday that he “expects to hear more” from the secretary of state about allegations of voter fraud, and he expressed confidence in voter registration procedures at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske took state officials, including the governor and the DMV director, by surprise late Friday when she announced that her office had uncovered evidence that noncitizens had voted in last year’s presidential election. Cegavske in a letter blamed the DMV, claiming that the agency’s personnel had given voter registration materials to people they knew or should have known were ineligible to vote.

In a letter to DMV Director Terri Albertson, Cegavske said the practice must “cease immediately.” Cegavske is a Republican and former state legislator from Las Vegas.

Albertson responded Saturday, saying that the process used at the DMV had been vetted by the secretary of state, the attorney general’s office and others.

On Monday, Sandoval, a Republican in the middle of his second term, said, “I take any allegations of voter fraud seriously and expect to hear more from the secretary of state concerning the charge made by her office.”

But he stood by the DMV, saying the agency operated under guidelines adopted following a memorandum of understanding signed by the secretary of state’s office, the DMV and others to comply with the 1993 National Voting Rights Act.

The federal law requires state motor vehicle agencies to provide voter registration applications whenever someone applies for or renews a driver’s license.

“The DMV’s role is an administrative function in accordance with state and federal law,” Sandoval said. “The discretion to register an applicant lies exclusively with the registrar in the county where the applicant resides.”

Joe Gloria, voter registrar in Clark County, said Monday that the secretary of state did not notify him of her findings, even though it’s the largest county in the state and home to more than 2 million people.

“I wish I had something to tell you,” Gloria said. “I’m in much the same boat as most other officials. We haven’t seen any information related to exactly what the secretary of state has discovered.”

He added, “As far as I’m concerned, all of the procedures currently in place are exactly what they should be, and we rely on the DMV to provide that information to us.”

Cegavske’s office has not disclosed how many people are suspected of casting illegal ballots or how many nonresidents may be on the voter rolls. No new information was provided Monday.

Word of the investigation comes as several election and voter registration bills are being debated in the Legislature. One measure, known as the Automatic Voter Registration Initiative, seeks to automatically register people to vote when they apply for or renew a driver’s license unless they opt out of registering.

Under the current system, people must opt in.

The bill was approved by the Democratic majority in both the Senate and Assembly but vetoed by Sandoval, who expressed concerns that unqualified voters may “unintentionally apply to vote.”

Because it was a citizen initiative, it will go to voters in 2018.

During debate on the Senate floor, Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, R-Reno, said more than 21,000 noncitizens in Nevada have driver licenses or identification cards, and the initiative would increase the chances someone ineligible will register to vote.

Kieckhefer said Monday that he, too, is awaiting details on the scope of the secretary of state’s investigation.

“It might be just one or two people,” he said. “Who knows?”

Assemblyman Paul Anderson, the Republican minority leader, said over the weekend that the allegations of illegal voting “are serious and troubling.”

Democratic Majority Leader Aaron Ford, D-Las Vegas, would not speculate.

“We’re going to withhold comment until she shows us the evidence that she says she has,” Ford said.

Contact Sandra Chereb at schereb@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3821. Follow @SandraChereb on Twitter.

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