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Ballot Question 5 - Automatic Voter Registration

On November 6, Nevadans will make the decision to vote “yes” or “no” on several ballot questions.

One of those questions is Ballot Question 5. If it passes, when a person applies for a Nevada driver license or identification card, he or she will be automatically registered to vote - that is, unless they opt out.

The way the system works right now is that when you apply for a driver license, you are asked if you would like to register to vote. The current method is a so-called opt-in system and not automatic.

Lynn Armanino is the first vice president of the Nevada Federation of Republican Women. Her group is against the ballot measure. She told KNPR's State of Nevada her group thinks it is a matter of government versus the individual.

“If it’s an individual issue the person opts to register," she said, "If you have to opt out then it becomes more government issue.”

Armanino said registering to vote is important and a person should choose to opt in rather than to opt out.

One of the biggest concerns those against the idea have is that people who are non-citizens will register to vote. Armanino said when California instituted the same initiative thousands of people were put on the voter rolls who should not have been there.

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She also said the new software to support the electronic opt-out system would cost the state $4.8 million dollars.

Matt Griffin is a lawyer in private practice who is working with Nevadans for Secure Elections to get the initiative passed. He formerly worked at the Secretary of State's office.

Griffin says the opt-out system would help eliminate the problem of third parties coming to the state and trying to register as many people as possible. 

He pointed to the situation several years ago when the group ACORN came to Nevada and registered people to vote. However, it was discovered that it had turned in thousands of duplicate registrations and thousands of fraudulent registrations, including registrations for Mickey Mouse and Tony Romo.

“That mess is left to the Secretary of State and the county clerk to try to figure out,” he said.

Griffin said when people go to the DMV they have paperwork that is much more accurate and easier to double check than what is filled out on a clipboard at Sunset Park.

In addition, under the proposed system, the paperwork submitted to the DMV would be checked and double-checked for errors like misspellings and wrong birthdates.

For her part, Armanino said the ballot measure won't stop third parties from coming to the state to register people.

"You will still have people in front of the DMV registering people to vote," she said. Armanino said if the Republicans and Democrats agreed to have the people they hire to register voters properly trained that would stop some of the issues with third parties but that hasn't happened. 

Griffin also brushed aside the idea that it is a government versus individual issue because he says it is really not changing much about the system it is just offering a better way to update it.

“If we have an opportunity to make the rolls more reliable, we should do it," he said, "If we have an opportunity to make registering easier for people, we should do it. If we have an opportunity to make the participation in the democratic process easier, we should do it.”



Lynn Armanino, First Vice President, Nevada Federation of Republican Women; Matt Griffin, Nevadans for Secure Elections



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