Politics & Policy

Nevada Independents a Large Force in August Voter Registration

Non-partisan voters, who make up 15 percent of all active voters and are expected to determine the outcome of numerous hotly contested elections in Nevada, accounted for 29 percent of the new voters registering in the month of August.

The 2,249 new non-partisans outnumbered the 2,037 newly registered Republicans. Both were slightly outpaced by Democratic registrations of 2,617.  

Registration numbers of all parties may soon see an additional boost due to the Secretary of State’s new Online Voter Registration System, which launched late last week. It gives Clark County residents the ability register to vote online with either a Nevada driver’s license or other state-issued ID number. The system matches the voter’s ID number and physical address with information in the county and DMV data banks and also requires the voter to verify his or her signature as on record with the DMV.

Previously, as in most other states, Nevada residents had to visit a government office or register through a third party. The new system is so far available only to unregistered residents in Clark County, where 72 percent of the state’s population and roughly 65 percent of the state’s voters reside.

Ross Miller, the Secretary of State and a Democrat, today told BATTLE ’10 his goal is to make sure Nevadans have a “fair, safe, and secure” electoral process.

“The ID-required online system will help us streamline the registration process by reducing the likelihood of errors inherent in a paper-based system as well as typical data entry errors,” said Miller. “It will also take care of some of the problems inherent in registration drives conducted by third party organizations.”

“Instead of a group like ACORN putting people out on a street corner or in front of the DMV and having potential registrants fill out forms which may or may not be turned in depending on their party affiliation and the leanings of the ACORN person, this new system has the resident filling out and submitting the information directly,” he added.

Responding to concerns that the new system might benefit Democrats because it is available only in Clark County which leans Democratic in terms of voter registrations, Miller said the suggestion was “absurd” even in light of the political landscape.

“In the week since implemented, records at the DMV show 250 Democrats and 148 Republicans registering to vote,” said Miller. “By contrast, with the new Nevada system, Republicans and non-partisans gained 89 new voters each while Democrats gained 62.”

“I just don’t think there is an argument to be made that the online system favors a particular party,” he said. “Both parties are free to point people to the site.”

The deadline for Nevadans to register to vote by mail or online for the November 2 general election is Saturday, October 2. 

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