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Voter Rolls Swell As Automatic Registration Takes Effect

People standing and sitting in a DMV office.
Jeff Scheid
The Nevada Independent
People wait at the DMV office in Henderson.

Lee en español.

Thirty-year-old construction worker Jesse Speights walked into the Reno DMV on Monday, not knowing if he was even registered to vote.

When he walked out shortly afterwards, he was officially a registered nonpartisan, one of the first customers to undergo what he called a “quick and easy” process under Nevada’s new automatic voter registration law (click here for a video explainer of that). But while he affirmed that “voting’s cool” because you can pick the leader of the U.S., he wasn’t sure he would do it in November.

“Maybe … we’ll see,” he said.

Speights is among thousands of new voters added to the rolls in January, driven primarily by new nonpartisans, but also by a smaller number of Democrats and Republicans. The surge of well over 6,000 new voters in Clark County during the first 10 days of January was close to the average amount the county saw in an entire month under the prior system. The increased registrations appear to be because under the new law, people who complete DMV transactions automatically have their voter records updated unless they opt out.

Although the early numbers could foreshadow a strong turnout and possible trouble for the Republican Party, which is seeing its ranks grow more slowly relative to other party registrations, it is uncertain how many of the newly registered voters will show up at the voting booths. Many have no prior experience casting a ballot.

Visit The Nevada Independent for the complete story.

Jazmin Orozco Rodriguez is a reporter for KHN’s rural health desk based in Elko, Nevada.
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