New report finds some Nevada voting policies of great concern in one of the most closely watched elections in the country
- Dale Eisman
Mary Boyle, Common Cause, (202) 736-5770
Tim Rusch, Demos, (212) 389-1407
Burdensome registration requirements, lack of outreach to Spanish speaking population cited as hurdles to voting
Washington, DC – A new study concludes that Nevada’s voting laws and practices may effectively disenfranchise qualified voters. According to the report, “Voting in 2010: Ten Swing States,” Nevada’s practice that a voter’s name in the state registration database must be a letter-for-letter match with the name on the voter’s driver’s license or other state ID, is overly burdensome and can lead to a voter being purged from the rolls. The report also argues that Nevada’s voter registration deadline – 30 days before the election — is an unnecessary barrier to voting and complains that the secretary of state’s office does little to reach out to the state’s 192,000 eligible Hispanic voters. Registration forms in Spanish are not available on the state’s web site, the study notes.
Practices like these are very problematic in a state where the U.S. Senate race is very close and the gubernatorial race will be hotly contested. The report was produced by national policy centers and election watchdogs Common Cause and Demos. It also reviews voting laws and policies in Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, and Ohio.
“The campaigns in Nevada are already being harshly fought, and all Nevada citizens should have the right to have the final say without encountering unnecessary obstacles,” said Tova Wang, Senior Democracy Fellow at Demos and author of the report. “Given the significance of the Latino community in Nevada in particular, elections officials need to ensure they have the information and tools they need to have full access to the polls.”
“When the stakes are this high, the rules of the game — and whether or not they are enforced -make all the difference” said Susannah Goodman, director of election reform for Common Cause and co-author of the report. “This report shows where we need better rules – and better referees.”
The report examines problematic voting areas including registration, ID issues (which can present burdens to those who don’t hold traditional identification such as a driver’s license), provisional ballots, voter suppression and deception tactics, caging and challenge laws, voting by overseas and military voters, and challenges for new citizens and ethnic minorities. A summary chart evaluates each state’s practices, and a set of recommendations is offered for improvement of these voting procedures.
For Nevada, the report found a number of notable obstacles to full voter participation.
Registration by mail ends 30 days prior to the election. In-person registration ends 21 days prior to the election. This disparity may impact certain groups of voters more than others, and both deadlines are so far from Election Day that some voters may not be able to participate.
Nevada uses an “exact match” standard on voter registration databases, which may make it more difficult for some voters to cast a ballot.
Nevada is among several states where issues could arise around immigrant and Latino voters. Though there are 192,000 eligible Hispanic voters in Nevada, the secretary of state has not taken any particularly proactive steps to reach out to these voters. Moreover, even in a state with such large numbers of Latinos, Spanish language voter registration forms are not available on the secretary of state’s website.
The voting rights restoration process for citizens with a felony record is only applicable to those with certain criminal convictions. Those convicted of multiple felonies or of Class A or Class B felonies under Nevada law are not restored the right to vote automatically, even if pardoned by a judge
Nevada has had experiences with deceptive practices causing confusion and impeding the vote, and its deceptive practices law is not as specific as it should be to combat these concerns.
On the positive side, Nevada has some exemplary voting laws that other states would do well to emulate.
Nevada has excellent voter identification laws, with requirements that are in line with the Help America Vote Act’s mandate that first-time voters who registered by mail must show certain types of ID prior to voting.
A provisional ballot will be counted if cast at a polling place located in the voter’s congressional district.
Click here for the full report, executive summary and other swing state information.