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Is NV Serving "Next Gen" Voters? Survey says Yes – and No

June 14, 2011

LAS VEGAS - Nevada ranks 15th in a new survey of how states treat their younger voters and, despite a decent score compared to other states, there's room for improvement. The scorecard from the group Rock the Vote tracks how well each state is preparing young people to be good citizens and informed voters. States were judged on how easy, or tough, it is to register and cast a ballot.

Sam King, director and grassroots lobbyist with the League of Women Voters of Nevada, says the state scored just over 40 percent when it comes to providing the most up-to-date methods of voter registration.

"Young voters are wired differently than you and I. They're technically cooked up; so, if we could make it a little more 21st century, we could bring Nevada up to where we should be. And I think this is endemic, not only in Nevada, but a lot of places. "

The Rock the Vote survey gives Nevada high marks for its online voter registration, but says the state falls short when it comes to automatic registration, and making registration more "portable" as people move around.

King says Nevada is still playing catch-up with other states that have the Department of Motor Vehicles handle changes of address for voter registration. Given the way people move around in the Silver State, she says, this is an important fix that's still needed.

"With the new technology, you go in and you're moving; you report it to the DMV. Well, that's supposed to uplink and get it to the Secretary of State, so that, you know, you're still registered. So let's just say we're trying to get in compliance."

King disagreed with the low score given for civic education in schools: she says League of Women Voters volunteers reach kids as early as primary school to stress the importance of voting.

Some have indicated concerns about voter fraud with same-day or online voter registration, but Thomas Bates, vice president of civic engagement with Rock the Vote, is not among them. He says the current system is simply outmoded in states like Nevada, and young voters aren't the only ones inconvenienced.

"There are plenty of reasons why people aren't on the rolls, and realize it too late. I think there needs to be a fail-safe for people who evidence an interest and willingness to vote, but are trapped by this kind of antiquated system."

See the survey results at www.rockthevote.com

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV