CARSON CITY – Nevada’s active voter rolls increased by 7,882 registrations in August, with Democrats picking up just over 2,600 new voters compared to just over 2,000 for Republicans.
Democrats now have 461,461 active registered voters just about two months before the Nov. 2 general election compared to 402,960 for the GOP, a 58,501 edge for Democrats and a slight increase from July.
Nonpartisan voters added 2,249 new registrants in August, bringing the total to 167,802. Nonpartisan voters are expected to play a critical role in the outcome of a number of contests in Nevada, particularly the neck-and-neck race between U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV., and his Republican challenger, Sharron Angle.
In total there are just under 1.1 million active registered voters in Nevada, a number that may grow at a faster rate now that Secretary of State Ross Miller has implemented an online registration program in Clark County.
Only eight other states have online voter registration systems, including Arizona, Utah and Colorado.
The new Online Voter Registration System launched last week gives Clark County residents who are currently unregistered another option for getting signed up as voters. Applicants must have a Nevada state-issued driver’s license or other state ID number. An online voter registration can be completed in just minutes from any computer with internet access. The system was developed in partnership with Clark County and the Department of Motor Vehicles.
From Sept. 1 through today at 10:37 a.m., 275 people took advantage of the new online voter registration system, with 62 registering as Democrats, and 89 each registering as Republican and nonpartisan. The rest were minor party registrants.
“I just don’t think there is an argument to be made that the online system favors a particular party,” Miller told Battle ’10 today. “Both parties are free to point people to the site.”
Miller said he is encouraged by the early use of the system, and noted it should become the dominant process for people to register to vote as has happened in other states with online registration. Miller said he will expand online registration to other counties, but that it won’t happen this election cycle.
Miller said Clark County was chosen first because 65 percent of the voters reside in the county, and it is where voter fraud problems have been reported in the past. The online system is more secure, he said.
ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, was involved in Nevada voter registration efforts for the 2008 presidential election. The group was investigated in Nevada and criminally charged for alleged fraudulent voter registration efforts.
“My goal as chief elections officer for the state is to make sure every Nevadan who is eligible can register to vote, cast their vote, and have it counted in an electoral process that is fair, safe, and secure,” Miller said in launching the online system. “The ID-required online system will help us do all of that. It streamlines the registration process by reducing the likelihood of errors inherent in a paper-based system. As a result, fewer voters will encounter questions and delays about their registration status when they show up to vote.”
Miller said surveys show that online voter registration systems are popular in Arizona and Washington, where a vast majority of users say they feel the systems are secure and easy to use. In addition, Arizona officials report a nearly 97 percent reduction in the cost of processing an online registration compared to processing a paper form.
The deadline to register to vote by mail for the November general election is Saturday, October 2. The deadline to register in person is Oct. 12.