Posts Tagged ‘secretary state’

Assembly Leadership Says Reforms to Campaign Finance Reporting Will Wait

By Sean Whaley | 4:26 pm September 20th, 2010

CARSON CITY – While Secretary of State Ross Miller has announced he will voluntarily post his campaign contribution and expense report early so voters can review the information prior to casting their ballots in the Nov. 2 general election, other candidates are not ready to follow suit.

Both Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera and Assembly Minority Leader Pete Goicoechea said there are too many issues involved for them to recommend to their caucuses and candidates to file the reports in mid-October before early voting begins.

Goicoechea, R-Eureka, said changes to the reporting process need to be thoroughly considered by the 2011 Legislature before they can be implemented.

“I have a lot of questions,” he said. “We need to take a long hard look at the total ramifications of any changes.”

Goicoechea said there is a lot at stake for both parties in the legislative elections in November, with Assembly Republicans looking to increase their number to take away a veto-proof 28-seat majority now held by Democrats.

A problem with early reporting of contributions is that the opposing party would see which races a caucus was focusing on, he said.

“We have to show not only where the contributions come from, but where we’re spending the money,” Goicoechea said. “It makes it difficult.”

In an email response to a question about whether Assembly Democrats would follow Miller’s example and post their reports early, Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said any reforms to the filing of campaign contribution and expense reports must be uniformly applied to everyone. In addition, many of the Democrat candidates running for Assembly seats in the November general election do not have the staff or financing to prepare such reports ahead of time, he said.

“Of the 42 Democratic candidates for state Assembly, many have submitted handwritten reports because they don’t have the staff or financing to prepare accurate reports at a moment’s notice during the busiest time in their campaign,” Oceguera said.

Miller has requested legislation to move up the reporting dates for the contribution and expense reports, saying they don’t come out now until early voting is well under way. Miller also wants reports filed electronically so they can be easily searched by the public.

So 21 days before the Nov. 2 general election, Miller said he will electronically file his campaign contribution and expenditure report online for the public to review. In keeping with his proposed legislation, Miller will also file a report four days before the general election detailing any contributions received by his campaign in excess of $1,000 after the initial report filing.

Oceguera has proposed an alternative for consideration by the 2011 Legislature which would require reporting of contributions within 72 hours of receipt.

“I believe my proposal of switching over to online filing of contributions and expenditures within 72 hours gives even more transparency, and all filings are automatically searchable,” he said. “With my proposal we accomplish both goals at once and the rules apply to everyone.”

Senate Majority Leader Steven Horsford, D-Las Vegas, did not respond to a request for comment.

Senate Minority Leader Bill Raggio, R-Reno, said he has not asked his caucus members who are running for re-election in this cycle about voluntarily reporting contributions and expenditures ahead of the deadline. Raggio is in the middle of his term and is not up for re-election this year.

Raggio said he has no problem with earlier reporting as long as the process does not become a trap for candidates who might forget and miss a deadline by one day. But he said any reporting changes should apply to everyone, including political action committees that spend money on behalf of candidates or on issues.

“There is no harm in doing it, but I think the information is of more interest to the media than the public,” Raggio said.

Secretary of State Ross Miller to File His Campaign Contribution And Expense Report Early

By Sean Whaley | 2:02 pm September 14th, 2010

CARSON CITY – In an effort to convince his fellow elected officials that filing campaign contribution and expenditure reports online and before early voting is not too onerous for candidates, Secretary of State Ross Miller said he will do so voluntarily in advance of the Nov. 2 general election.

Miller has submitted a bill draft request for consideration by the 2011 Legislature to move the filing dates of the reports up so the information would be available to residents before they vote. Miller, who sought similar legislation without success in 2009, also wants the reports filed electronically so voters and others can search the information more easily.

Currently many of the reports are handwritten and they are not searchable.

Miller, who is running for a second term as secretary of state, said he will use himself as an example on how following his proposed legislation will not cause any great inconvenience or  create any great disadvantage for candidates.

So 21 days before the Nov. 2 general election, Miller said he will electronically file his campaign contribution and expenditure report online for the public to review. In keeping with his proposed legislation, Miller will also file a report four days before the general election detailing any contributions received by his campaign in excess of $1,000 after the initial report filing.

“Transparency in campaign finance is always one of our biggest priorities and we’re always ranked near the bottom if not the worst in terms of the disclosure that we have in place,” he said.

Miller said one of the objections raised to the proposal in 2009 by some lawmakers was that the online filing was too onerous for some candidates.

“In order to try to rebut that claim, I’m going to go ahead and comply with the proposed statute this election cycle,” he said. “Hopefully it will establish that it really isn’t that difficult.”

The way the law reads now, the reports are not due until Oct. 26, seven days before the general election, and they can be mailed in, meaning they may not be available on the secretary of state’s website until just a day or two before the election. This existing deadline is also well after early voting has begun. The majority of people now vote early, Miller said.

Early voting in the upcoming general election begins Oct. 16.

Miller’s proposal is one of several related to the filing of campaign contribution and expense reports that will be considered by the Legislature next year.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, said Democrats will seek a change to the law requiring the filing of every financial contribution, including the amount and name of donor, online within 72 hours of receipt by the candidate.

“We’re open to reaching some sort of compromise,” Miller said. “The most important component of the legislation is to make sure the reports are filed electronically.”

The way it is now, with a 100-page handwritten report on the internet, is not helpful to voters, he said.

Assemblyman Joe Hogan, D-Las Vegas, also has submitted a bill draft to move the reporting deadlines to before early voting.

Republican secretary of state candidate Rob Lauer could not immediately be reached for comment on Miller’s proposed legislation. In his response to a transparency questionnaire sent out by the Nevada Policy Research Institute, Lauer initially indicated opposition to the filing of campaign reports so the data can be searched. He subsequently changed his answer to support for the idea.

Independent American Party candidate John Wagner also indicated support for the idea in the NPRI candidate survey.


Audio clips:

Miller says Nevada ranks low in transparency for campaign reports:

091410Miller1 :14 some legislation through.”

Miller says the most important component is to make sure the reports are filed electronically:

091410Miller2 :17 on specific data.”

Miller says he will file his campaign report early and update it to show the process is not onerous for candidates:

091410Miller3 :32 submit another report.”

Nevada’s Active Voter Rolls Increase By Nearly 8,000 In August, New Online Registration Program In Clark County May Help Add To Total

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 5:14 pm September 7th, 2010

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.

Nevada Secretary of State’s Business Portal Project Moves Forward With Lawmaker OK

By Nevada News Bureau Staff | 11:41 am June 25th, 2010

CARSON CITY – A one-stop shop for businesses to access Nevada state programs and services is moving forward with lawmaker approval Thursday of a contract to develop the first of its kind business portal in the secretary of state’s office.

A $4.5 million contract to develop the technology for the portal is being awarded to Capgemini Government Solutions by Secretary of State Ross Miller, who conceived the project. The contract will be considered by the Board of Examiners on July 13 and the work is expected to begin shortly thereafter.

The portal is expected to be operational by the spring of 2011.

“This groundbreaking new service will also get the attention of business executives across the country who are looking to expand or relocate to a more business-friendly environment,” Miller said. “The business portal will streamline how companies do business with state agencies to the extent that it will make Nevada decidedly more competitive than we already are in attracting new business.”

Funding for the contract was approved by the Legislature’s Interim Finance Committee.

Assembly Majority Leader John Oceguera, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored legislation to create the portal in 2009, said it will bring multiple benefits to the state.

“It will allow us to greatly improve service to Nevada businesses, realize unprecedented efficiencies in state government and capture millions of dollars in revenue that have typically been lost to the state,” he said.

Capgemini Government Solutions is one of the world’s largest information technology consultancy services. The company has a successful track record in working with other state agencies and demonstrated a clear understanding and shared vision of the portal during the vendor selection process. The contract to develop the technology, including service oriented architecture, portal, business intelligence, content management, and identity and access management, runs through February 1, 2011.

Currently, millions of dollars in revenue are lost because state agencies are not able to cross check data to make sure all entities conducting business in the state are properly licensed, registered, and permitted. The portal is expected to correct that inefficiency.

This second phase of the project will develop a wizard functionality to integrate the business services of the secretary of state’s office and the Department of Taxation. Through the portal, businesses will be able to apply for and receive their sales and use tax permits, receive and renew their annual state business licenses, file articles of incorporation, file annual lists of officers and conduct other important business all in one online visit and with one online payment.

The portal will also provide a path for businesses to follow to conduct transactions with other state, county, and city agencies.

The portal is expected to also greatly improve government efficiency by eliminating paper-based processes that lead to errors and delays in service, streamlining data storage and retrieval, improving security, and reducing administrative costs.

Secretary of State Reaches Agreement With Candidate Who Used Campaign Funds Improperly

By Sean Whaley | 7:06 pm April 16th, 2010

CARSON CITY – Las Vegas Assemblywoman Kathy McClain and Secretary of State Ross Miller reached an agreement today resolving  a complaint that she inappropriately used campaign funds to pay for her Clark County retirement contributions while serving as a lawmaker.

McClain, D-Las Vegas, agreed to make a $7,276 personal contribution to Safe Nest, a Las Vegas nonprofit supporting abused women, to cover the cost of the contribution she had made in 2009 to the Public Employees Retirement System from her campaign fund.

McClain, who is running for an open state Senate seat, said she believed all along the use of her campaign fund for such a purpose was proper, and she disclosed the payment on her contribution and expense report.

“I’ve always taken full responsibility for my actions” she said. “I have consistently been open and forthright in reporting those actions. I’m pleased that the Secretary of State determined that there is ‘no evidence that . . . payments were made in bad faith.”

McClain disagrees with Miller’s view that the use of her campaign fund to pay retirement contributions is not allowable.

Miller has concluded such payments are a personal obligation and not related to service in the state Legislature. In a press release announcing the agreement, Miller said his view could be sustained at a trial despite her attorney’s views to the contrary.

Miller said the agreement will bring the issue to a close without incurring additional expense to the state.

Other expenses questioned in the review were not directly addressed in the announcement from Miller. McClain said the issues of health insurance and rent were deemed to be allowable. There was no mention in the agreement of a $5,002 payment to the PERS system in August 2005.

McClain, who retired from her Clark County job in January, said the donation will remove any suggestion she personally benefited from her campaign fund. McClain said she would also like to work to clarify the law to provide better guidance to elected officials.