New voting rules
When voters go to the polls in Carson City this year, it won’t just be the machines that are new.
Clerk Alan Glover says the federal Help America Vote Act (HAVA) made a long list of changes designed to ensure that all eligible voters can vote.
One of the biggest changes, he said, is that no one who says they are a voter will be turned away this year. Florida Democrats blame officials who purged thousands of names from the rolls for swinging that state to George Bush in 2000.
Under the Nevada new rules, even someone who forgot to bring ID and doesn’t show up on the list of voters will be allowed to cast a provisional ballot for federal offices.
“They just tell us they think they’re registered to vote, and then we have until Friday at 5 o’clock to determine if they were registered or not,” said Glover.
But they won’t get to vote the full ballot because the Nevada Legislature restricted provisional voting to federal offices — the minimum required by HAVA.
“If someone shows up and doesn’t have ID, we’re going to just suggest they go home and get their ID,” he said. “That’s the simple way to fix it.”
He said he doesn’t expect very many provisional ballots. Most of the problems arise because voters registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles and never completed the process by bringing ID to the clerk’s office.
He said when new voters don’t show up in the poll book, most of the time it’s because of missing information such as a date of birth. He said he and his staff will check DMV records and look through the dead file to see if the voter was purged.
“If it’s our fault and they give us enough time, we’re going to issue a certificate of error and let them vote a full ballot,” he said.
Existing voters are purged from the rolls if they fail to vote in two consecutive general elections and don’t respond to the letters the elections division sends to their home address. The most common reason, he said, is that the voter has moved.
He urged both new voters and those who have moved in the past few years to make sure they are properly registered before November’s Election Day. He pointed out his staff is expecting as many as 4,000 more people to register between now and then.
“We have about 21,000 now. By Election Day, we’ll have 25,000,” he said.
Another common reason why voters are removed from the roll is that they filled out a jury service card saying they had moved out of the area.
“People do that to get out of jury duty, but when we get it, we purge them from the rolls because they say they moved,” he said.
With the new touch screen machines, Glover said voters can use any machine in a polling place to cast their ballot instead of waiting for a machine in their precinct. The activation card will automatically pull up the races each voter is entitled to vote in at any available machine.
He said the state and counties are planning education programs to make sure voters long accustomed to punch card ballots in the capital understand the new computerized machines. He said the machines are a lot like ATM machines so most voters will have no trouble using them. But he said some – particularly seniors – will be confused if they have to learn a new system every time they go to vote over the next few years.