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Does Nevada need a voter ID law?

By February 22, 2013

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The voter ID issue has cropped up in Nevada, and it's coming from an unexpected source.

Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller
Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller.
Photo © Stan White

A new voter ID system has been proposed by Democratic Secretary of State Ross Miller. Under this plan (Senate Bill 63), voters would be identified by a picture when they go to cast their ballots. Miller wants to use driver license and state ID photos on file with the Nevada DMV, which already include about 98 percent of eligible voters. Election workers would take a photo of those who come to vote and don't have a picture on file. The voter would then sign an affidavit attesting to their identity. The $10 million needed to implement the voter ID system, along with fears of voter suppression efforts, are giving some legislators pause. Others are all for it and think such an update is long overdue. The fate of voter ID is likely to be determined during the current 77th Regular Session of the Nevada Legislature.

One legislator who is questioning both the need for a new voter ID law in Nevada and the cost is State Senator and Majority Leader Mo Denis (D, Las Vegas). As quoted in the Reno Gazette-Journal, Denis said, "Part of this is on voter fraud, trying to fix the problem. But we don't realy have any documented evidence that there is a problem. So, when it comes to funding an issue, when we also have education and economic issues... that is not going to be a priority for us."

Miller, also quoted in the Reno Gazette-Journal, defended his proposal by saying, "This is an upgrade to a system that needs to take place anyway. We have been proud of how we have been able to run elections in this state and, if we want to continue to run top-tier elections, this is something that needs to happen." Miller said his system puts the burden of maintaining voter records on government rather than requiring citizens to have some sort of voter ID card in order to cast a ballot.

Update: At the end of January, Miller's office released a revised cost estimate for implementing his voter ID plan. Instead of $10 million, the estimated price tag was set at $800,000.

What do you think? Is the current process of running elections in Nevada okay, or should the legislature enact a law along the lines of what Miller is proposing?

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