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The Nevada Independent

Secretary of state delays rollout of top-down voter registration system to July

An organization of county clerks and election workers asked to delay the rollout — originally set for April — after a test run revealed unresolved problems.
Tabitha Mueller
Tabitha Mueller
Eric Neugeboren
Eric Neugeboren
Election 2024State Government

The Nevada Secretary of State’s Office is pushing back its rollout of a long-anticipated, centralized voter registration and election system from April to July amid concerns raised by more than a dozen county clerks who were uncertain that the system could be fully vetted ahead of the June primary.

The decision on the project — which seeks to unify a fragmented system that relies on 17 individual counties maintaining unique records, and then reporting them to the state — follows a request from the Nevada Association of County Clerks and Election Officials on Monday to delay the project's implementation. The counties’ top election officials wrote that the project’s “narrow window” of time allocated to review, fix and check updates resulting from a test run is too short given the existing demands on their offices and the imminent June primary elections.

“This request is not made lightly. We need this system. More importantly, we need this system to be successful,” officials wrote. “We all are charged with ensuring the accuracy, integrity, and security of elections. We must be able to guarantee that we have a final product that will best serve the needs of the voters in Nevada.”

Two counties did not sign onto the letter: Clark County, which already uses the new software, and Lyon County, which submitted a separate request to delay the project’s launch date.

In a response letter on Monday, Secretary of State Cisco Aguilar said that project development will continue based on the existing timeline with the hopes of resolving any issues ahead of a July go-live date. This means the system will not be live for the state primary elections in June as originally intended, but should be operational for the November general election.

“The confidence of the voters, our constituents, must be our top priority, and I understand that you made this request with them in mind,” Aguilar wrote in a response letter to the county clerks on Monday. “I am grateful that you recognize the importance of moving to a top-down system and are looking forward to going live before the 2024 presidential election.”

In Nevada, individual counties maintain their own voter registration databases and transmit that data to state officials every night. A 2017 report from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission identified Nevada as one of six states with a bottom-up voter registration system.

Under the new system, voter registration data would be uploaded to a statewide database in real time — generally considered to be more effective in maintaining voter rolls and easing logistical hurdles associated with things like same-day voter registration.

State elections officials have touted the new system as a way to allow for comprehensive maintenance of voter history, reduce time needed to validate voter registration applications, have standardized training among election officials and allow for more election transparency. 

The delay comes one month after Aguilar told The Nevada Independent that the new system was still set for an April 1 launch date, adding that the new system would have prevented last month’s voter history glitch, which erroneously showed that some Nevadans had participated in the presidential preference primary when they hadn’t. The mishap did not affect the results of the presidential primary, which took place before the glitch occurred.

The April 1 rollout date was only for the first phase of the project and applied to all counties except Clark County. The county already used the new system for the presidential primary but will not be immediately included in the initial rollout. The entire project was expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2025.

The highly anticipated system overhaul has been in the works for years. In 2021, the Legislature passed AB422, which called for creating the new system and established a January 2024 deadline. A year later, a top state elections official asked lawmakers for an extension until 2026 and said that elections officials wanted to build the new system “properly, not quickly.”

Last year, the Legislature approved $30.5 million, including $25 million in state dollars, to support one-time costs for the project. The project had previously been funded through federal Help America Vote Act grant dollars.

In their Monday letter, the county elections officials said they “eagerly anticipate” the benefits of the new system, but acknowledged that they have struggled to meet the workload demanded by the project on top of their existing responsibilities.

“Our combined resources are stretched too thin to do the required election activities along with demands from our other offices while simultaneously testing the system upgrades and integrations, and conducting additional mock election exercises required to confirm data conversion,” the letter read.


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