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April 15, 2017

DMV Confident in Voter Application Procedures

Cites Federal Compliance with Current Policies and Procedures

The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles received a letter from the Nevada Secretary of State’s Office on Friday evening, questioning the voter registration practices currently in place by the Department. In a response sent on Saturday, the Department stated, “Your letter comes as a complete surprise as you and your office have reviewed, contributed to, and approved the processes you are expressing concerns about.”

The Department is one of several pass-through organizations in the state that accepts voter registration applications in accordance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) of 1993. The NVRA, commonly referred to as the federal Motor Voter Law, requires each state’s motor vehicle driver’s license application and/or renewal to also serve as a simultaneous voter registration application. When the DMV receives an application from a customer, it is then transmitted to the appropriate agency, most often a county clerk or registrar’s office, for processing. These locations serve under the Secretary of State’s Office as the officials responsible for determining eligibility and processing voter applications.

Although the DMV has always served as a pass through for applications, prior to September 2016, citizens interested in registering to vote were required to complete a separate voter registration application, even though much of the requested information was the same. Through a recent multi-phase implementation, the “Motor Voter” process has been changed to be in full compliance with the federal guidelines, eliminating the need for customers to duplicate information.

The DMV started conversations with representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Demos, Mi Familia Vota Education Fund, the League of Women Voters of Nevada and the Secretary of State’s Office in order to update practices.  “Our Attorney General’s office has been alongside us during this process, providing their advice and counsel to ensure we are following all federal and state laws,” said DMV Director Terri Albertson.

The transmittal of voter applications has also become electronic as part of the recent improvements, but all paper applications are still sent to the appropriate registrar/clerks’ office to enable them to compare and validate the information during registration.

In March, Demos announced the finalization of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed in cooperation with the DMV as well as the Secretary of State’s Office to ensure practices align in accordance with Federal guidelines. In that MOU, it states, “The DMV shall provide the appropriate Clerk/Registrar all Voter Registration Applications returned by customers without regard to their completeness.” Per the NVRA, the only reason the DMV or any pass through agency can refuse an application is due to a lack of signature.

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DMV Response Letter to Secretary of State - April 15, 2017 (PDF)