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July 24, 2014

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Nevada secretary of state gets mixed reaction to voter verification proposal

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Secretary of State Ross Miller addresses the Nevada State Democratic Party Convention on June 26, 2010, at the Flamingo.

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Panelists Andres Ramirez, left, president of the political consulting firm The Ramirez Group, and Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie discuss a voter ID proposal from Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller. A panel at UNLV on Friday discussed Miller's proposed plan, a new voting system would link with Department of Motorized Vehicle’s license database, allowing poll workers to visually verify the identity of the person attempting to vote in Nevada.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller drew a mix of cheers and boos Friday at UNLV as he presented a proposal to implement photographic verification of voters at polling places.

Under Senate Bill 63, which Miller plans to submit during the Legislature’s upcoming session, the state would replace the paper-based rolls used by poll workers to check in voters on Election Day. In place of those rolls would be an electronic system similar to the one already used during early voting.

“The existing system is completely antiquated,” Miller said. "It needs to be updated."

The new voting system also would link with Department of Motorized Vehicle’s license database, allowing poll workers to visually verify the identity of the person attempting to vote.

Although laws requiring voters to show driver’s licenses or other identification at the polls before casting a ballot have drawn criticism and lawsuits in other states, Ross and other members of a panel at a symposium Friday at UNLV’s Greenspun Hall said the Nevada bill would avoid many of the issues that have prompted uproar elsewhere.

“I don’t view this as a voter ID bill. ... No voter whatsoever will be required to bring any additional proof or evidence of who they are beyond what they’re already currently required to provide,” said panel member Andres Ramirez, president of the political consulting firm The Ramirez Group.

Under Miller’s bill, voters who aren’t in the DMV database could choose to either have their picture taken at the polling site or sign an affidavit confirming their identity. Miller said the inclusion of these provisions ensures that no one would be disenfranchised under the new voting system.

The electronic voter roll could also make it easier to vote by enabling same-day registration or allowing people to vote outside of their precincts.

Miller said same-day registration wouldn't be included in the bill in the Legislature, but that he saw it as a logical next step.

“This is a more secure system. I don’t think there are any good arguments against putting Election Day registration in place if you have the technology to verify somebody’s identify and residency before they vote,” Miller said.

The contents of the bill drew a mixed reaction from the crowd of about 75, which included a faction of self-identified members of local Tea Party and Republican groups alongside students and activists from voter’s rights groups.

A spirited exchange between the crowd and the panel, which included Miller, Ramirez, Minnesota Secretary of State Mark Ritchie and Brennan Center for Justice counsel Lee Rowland, took place during the question-and-answer session, with some members of the audience challenging and even interrupting the panelists.

Many questions focused on whether the new system would cut down on voter fraud and how it would ensure only eligible voters cast ballots.

Rowland said the new electronic system would allow for increased security because it could be cross-referenced with other government databases like the National Change of Address registry, allowing any suspicious or questionable voter registrations or ballots to be flagged for inspection.

“A huge benefit of an electronic poll book system is that it dramatically increases your ability to find and eliminate duplicates out of the system,” Rowland said. “Because it is more able to compare similar names, the electronic system is able to find those records and flag them for election officials.”

Other questions focused on whether the new system would increase the wait in line at the polls -- it wouldn't, Miller said -- or how much the system would cost to implement. The costs are unclear, according to Miller.

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  1. I support positive ID that can't be easily obtained or forged to protect the integrity of our elections and preserve the right to vote for legal citizens. Several articles published last year about convicted felons and non-citizens voting made the point for me.

  2. The claims about disenfranchised voters are pure bunk. I'll bet 99.9% of so called disenfranchised voters have drivers licenses, credit cards, social security cards and other items that can't be obtained without a government ID or positive proof of who you are and where you live.

  3. We have a system in place right now. I am holding a voter ID card in my hand. And it works.

    In the past few elections, there have been ways for the election people to verify things. And they have caught one person who tried to vote twice this last election.

    What exactly is broke? NOTHING. The system works perfectly.

    What I see, and everyone else sees, is this Secretary of State has looked at other States and perceives there is some kind of problem with voting.

    And this so called "problem" is one that has been perpetuated by Tea/Republicans who don't like it when people vote....and vote for someone other than their chosen equally Tea/Republican politicians.

    Again, I ask this question, one that I asked in another comment section when this whole nonsense came forth....

    Who's side are you on, Secretary of State Miller?

    Everything you are throwing out there is some kind of belief that there is wide spread voter election fraud going on within the State of Nevada. And it has been proven it was only a few instances here and there. And they were immediately identified, stopped and even prosecuted the perpetrator.

    Quit playing in with stupid Tea/Republican policies to just stop people from voting.

    All I see is this Secretary of State, if he institutes something like this, will do more to disenfranchise the voters out here....more than stop instances of voter fraud.

    Quit operating by stupid Tea/Republican Party playbooks. That's what they want. They don't want people to vote. And you are helping them. Knock it off.