On March 21, 2017, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed the state’s effort to establish an automatic voter registration system through the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles. If enacted, the the DMV’s voter registration would convert to a compulsory system rather than its current volunteer-based model. After a partisan split, the Governor sided with state Republicans and blocked the bill. The Governor’s veto is not final, as the initiative will now move to a statewide vote in the 2018 election.
Automatic voter registration refers to a system where a state-administered service automatically files an application to vote for all of its users, most commonly through the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Ten states plus the District of Columbia have established some form of automated registration, all of which have been enacted within the past three years. If approved, the Nevada DMV would be required to register any and all individuals seeking DMV services, provided that the individual does not expressly opt out through written consent.
Initiative Petition No. 1 (“IP1”) was first introduced to the Nevada legislature on February 6, 2017, by iVote, a D.C. based nonprofit specializing in voter rights. The underlying aim of the petition is to increase voter registration by making the process as simple as possible. The more people registered to vote means more people can vote come election day. This strategy to use the DMV as an automatic registration is a reaction Oregon’s success after becoming the first state to use such a system back in 2015.