Nevada to consider changes after high court voter ruling

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Nevada’s elections officials say they will consider whether the state will adopt a more aggressive approach to maintaining voter rolls, a move the American Civil Liberties Union said Friday it would closely monitor to ensure people aren’t denied their right to vote.

Nevada officials will contemplate a tougher approach after the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling Monday, affirmed Ohio’s practice of identifying voters for potential removal if they don’t vote in a federal election.

Ohio removes voters from the rolls if they don’t return an address confirmation card or vote during the next four years.

Nevada doesn’t currently use voter inactivity as a trigger for removal from the rolls, but it can eventually lead to a registration being canceled.

States are required under federal law to ensure that voter lists are accurate and up to date, but they’re barred from removing someone from the rolls solely because they don’t vote.

“We think that the right to vote is sacrosanct and people should always have the opportunity to vote,” ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Tod Story said.

A deputy to Nevada Secretary of State Barbara Cegavske said the office will examine the court’s ruling this summer and consider whether to start using failure to vote to begin the removal process.

“I’m sure we’ll look at it,” Deputy Secretary of State for Elections Wayne Thorley said. “We haven’t really made any decisions.”

Currently, Nevada voters are sent an address confirmation card if elections officials get some kind of indication that a voter’s address has changed.

That indication could include a returned piece of election-related mail, change-of-address notification from the U.S. Postal Service or a notification from the Electronic Registration Information Center.

The system known as ERIC is used by more than 20 states and the District of Columbia to maintain voter rolls by checking their lists with motor vehicle records, death records and change of address records.

If voters don’t return the address card, they’re put on inactive status. More than 100,000 Nevada voters have been shifted to inactive status over the past year, according to Cegavske’s office.

Inactive voters can still show up and vote, but their registration is canceled if they skip two federal elections over four years and don’t have any communication with elections officials.

Voters would need to re-register more than two weeks in advance of an election in order to cast a vote.

On principle, Story said the ACLU opposes purging anyone from voter rolls because of the potential that it could be done in error and a voter could be disenfranchised.

He said the ACLU will push the Legislature during next year’s session to pass a same-day voter registration law, which would eliminate worries that someone could be barred from voting when they show up at the polls without knowing their registration was canceled.