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Proposed Voter Registration Changes Bring Charges of Voter Suppression

people_voting.jpg

Brent Holmes

People voting during the election in November.

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske says that there were a number of voter glitches last year. She has a bill – Assembly Bill 45 – that aims to fix these glitches.

But one of the proposed changes was getting some pushback.

Cegavske wants to make everybody who registers voters go through training. The training isn’t onerous – a class that lasts about 90 minutes.

“We need them to be trained,” Cegavske said, “We had a lot of issues last election with voter registration fraud and we want to correct that.”

Those opposed to the bill at first were concerned it meant anyone helping to register voters would have to go through training to become a Certified Field Registrar, which is a higher level of training. 

Cegavske clarified that is not the case, which Laura Martin with the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada is now happier with.

“I think this clarification some what helps and maybe the bill needs to be revisited to make it clear we’re not telling people to become certified field registrars,” she said. 

Martin said another part of the bill that needs clarification are the rules stipulate that a person registering other people to vote can’t be partisan – no campaign gear, no “vote for this candidate,” no “register for this party.”

Support comes from

Under the current law, people who are Certified Field Registrars can't be partisan. Cegavske said it wasn't the intent of the bill to limit people from wearing campaign gear.

“The intent is to make sure everyone is on the same page," she said, "Everybody is filling out the forms correctly. They understand what they’re doing.” 

Cegavske said a lot of people who came from out of state to register people to vote or to gather petition signatures were not familiar with Nevada's laws. She wants to correct that for the next election cycle. 

Sondra Cosgrove, who is president of the League of Women Voters Las Vegas chapter, supports the Secretary of State’s proposed legislation. Cosgrove said voter registration forms that are filled out improperly get tossed out, which disenfranchises people.

“It’s our position that every eligible voter has a constitutional right to vote so we need to make sure the process for voter registration and access to the ballot confirm that right to vote,” she said.

Cosgrove said at voter registration events she has met many people who thought they were registered but weren't simply because the forms were not filled out or submitted properly. 

Guests

Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske; Sondra Cosgrove, president, Nevada chapter of the League of Women Voters; Laura Martin, associate director, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada (PLAN)

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