Report: ‘Motor voter’ law could cost Nevada $5M or $90,000 |

Report: ‘Motor voter’ law could cost Nevada $5M or $90,000

Alison Noon
The Associated Press

Adopting a proposed “motor voter” law in Nevada to register eligible people to vote when they apply for a driver’s license or other state identification card could cost as much as $5 million, state analysts said in a long overdue report released Tuesday.

But state officials called the report outdated and anticipate a much lower price tag for the program, which is projected to enroll at least 120,000 voters in the first year.

Under a 2016 voter-initiated petition, Nevadans would be registered to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles unless they opt out. The petition also calls for the voter rolls to be updated when people renew driver’s licenses or otherwise update their information with the DMV.

In the report filed six months late, fiscal analysts at the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau said implementing the program, should it become law, would cost $5 million if the state decided to implement a new registration database to facilitate data transfers between state and local agencies.

That information was solicited last year, though, and DMV Director Terri Albertson told lawmakers at a Tuesday hearing on the proposal that no changes may be necessary given updates the DMV has made to its computer system and forms since then.

No matter what the computer system and paperwork cost the state, the report said implementing automatic registration would require counties to front roughly $90,000 combined to reprogram their own systems.

On top of startup charges, ongoing costs would increase with additional DMV paperwork, voting notices and sample ballots.

The report was initially due in mid-August, when election reform activists filed the petition with the state and began collecting signatures. More than 250,000 people signed the petition.

Bureau Director Rick Combs said he “messed up” and let the legally mandated appraisal fall off his radar. The bureau is also responsible for writing lawmakers’ bills and began drafting hundreds of them in the fall, which Combs said also contributed to the delay.

The financial impact report was released hours ahead of the petition’s first legislative hearing.

Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph Gloria said his office has estimated that, under the first year of the automatic system, about 120,000 people would be registered to vote for the first time or taken off the inactive file in that county, which includes Las Vegas.

Opponents of automated registration argue it would be ripe for errors, fraud and hacking. Some say people have a personal responsibility to register themselves.

Six states and the District of Columbia have similar so-called motor voter policies, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law.

Oregon became the first state to enact such a law in 2015. State officials said in October the system registered about 250,000 new Oregon voters when they renewed their driver’s licenses.