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Volunteers speak with students during a voter registration drive on the University of Nevada Las Vegas campus on September 24, 2019. (Mikayla Whitmore/Nevada Independent)

The secretary of state’s office says it has developed a manual workaround for issues with the automatic voter registration system in order to ensure voters are correctly registered with their preferred party. 

Officials told lawmakers that the new system has been facing glitches which have caused it to incorrectly register some voters as non-partisan if they marked “other” as their party selection but did not write in their party selection. The automatic voter registration system, which took effect in the new year, updates voter records when a customer conducts a transaction at the the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) unless they opt out.

While the individual registration is transmitted as “customer left blank” and defaults to a nonpartisan registration, counties receive summary lists from the DMV that lists all records and correctly notes the chosen party information. The county then uses this information to correct the party affiliation.

Wayne Thorley, the deputy secretary of state for elections, emphasized that instances where these glitches have affected party registration have been “pretty rare.” But he did say the state wants to fix the problem as soon as possible so the manual workarounds are not needed forever.

Additionally, the office sends voters that default to nonpartisan a letter informing them of their nonpartisan status. Because Nevada has closed primary elections for the two major parties, voters are informed that they must register with a major party to participate in those elections.

Nevadans can check their voter registration status online through the secretary of state’s website and register in-person through same-day registration at any early vote or caucus location.

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