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Voter access/security debate comes to Carson City

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:27 PM PDT
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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) - Voter rights versus security concerns. It’s a debate taking place across the country. Now it’s come to Carson City and the Nevada Legislature.

Nevada voters approved the idea of automatic voter registration in 2018 and enabling legislation gave the job to the Department of Motor Vehicles. Thousands took advantage until the pandemic closed the doors at the DMV.

The numbers have rebounded since, but those pushing the issue say there are many Nevadans that solution didn’t reach.

So AB 342 proposes to expand automatic voter registration to agencies under the Department of Health and Human Services as well as Native American tribal agencies.

The bill got its first hearing Tuesday before the Assembly Legislative Operations and Elections Committee and was the subject of a Wednesday press conference by a coalition of community groups called ‘Let Nevadans Vote.’

One of the bill’s sponsors, Assemblyman Howard Watts, told both gatherings the bill would increase the reach and the efficiency of automatic registration.

“Really the point of this bill is to take that burden off by automating the process and having when people go in for Medicaid, which as noted you’re catching a different set of people who are still eligible, but they may not have a driver’s license or a car.”

But others told the lawmakers the bill was unnecessary and a burden for county officials.

“It increases costs,” said Tracey Thomas, a citizen testifying in opposition. “It’s not uniform. It’s not smoother. It increases liability because there’s increased human error. Similar to too many cooks in the kitchen. excessive manipulation will lead to inferior, inaccurate and conflicting records.”

No vote was taken. Since the bill would likely carry a price tag, it’s expected to be heard in the budget committees as well.

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