Measure to automatically register voters at the DMV introduced in Assembly

An initiative petition before Nevada lawmakers would automatically register eligible Nevadans to vote when they do business with the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The Automatic Voter Registration Initiative was introduced in the Nevada Assembly on Monday. Supporters submitted more than 125,000 signatures to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske in November, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

It's modeled after a “Motor Voter” program in Oregon that took effect last year. Nearly 250,000 people were registered to vote through that program and about 43 percent of them turned out to vote in the 2016 election, according to The Oregonian.

DMV officials would be required to securely submit customers' information to the Secretary of State to either register a person for the first time or update their information.

People can opt out if they don’t want the information transmitted.

Lawmakers have 40 days to act on the measure or it automatically goes to voters for consideration in 2018.

Democratic Assemblywoman Olivia Diaz, chairwoman of the Legislative Operations and Elections Committee where the initiative petition was sent, says her committee will probably give the measure a hearing.

Democrats, who control both houses of the Legislature, tend to favor the concept.

“Any way that we can increase voter participation and make it easier, so long as we can do it in a way that’s accountable and we can be certain who we’re dealing with, I think it’s a good thing,” said Democratic Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson.

But promoting the policy through an initiative petition rather than a traditional bill is one way to avoid the prospect of a veto from Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

The governor hasn’t taken a strong stance on the idea of automatic voter registration.

“The Governor will review the petition or any alternative if and when anything reaches his desk,” his spokeswoman, Mari St. Martin, said in a statement. “He would like to hear from both the Secretary of State and Department of Motor Vehicles on any fiscal impact this mandate would have on the State.”
This story was updated at 9:23 p.m. on Monday to include comments from Gov. Brian Sandoval and Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson.