Voting rights advocates claim the state is violating a federal law enacted more than 20 years ago requiring the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles to register voters. Attorneys representing Mi Familia Vota Education Fund and others sent a letter this week to Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske and DMV Director Terri Albertson detailing areas of non-compliance. Across the country, implementation of the law, often called the “motor voter” law, has stagnated since it was passed in 1993, voting rights advocates and law experts say. Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, Demos, Project Vote, the ACLU and the League of Women Voters now are partnering to push for compliance in Nevada, as several of the organizations have done in other states.
“You shouldn’t have to worry about people registering,” said Jocelyn Sida, Nevada state director of Mi Familia Vota. “It’s our right. We have that right. We are a country that doesn’t have to dodge bullets to go to the ballot box.”
The groups argue the Nevada DMV is failing to comply with the law by requiring people to fill out separate applications for a driver’s license or ID card and for voter registration. In Nevada, driver’s license applications have a box people can check to indicate they want to register to vote. If the box is checked, DMV employees give the applicant a separate voter registration form to fill out and turn in.
But the advocates say that process doesn’t always run smoothly. DMV employees sometimes forget to give people a voter registration form, even if they checked the box. The advocates also complain that people have to re-register to vote when they move counties and cannot update voter registration information online through the DMV’s change-of-address portal.