Students express support for automatic voter registration at the DMV

If Question 5 passes, Nevada would join the ranks of 13 other states with automatic voter registration systems. As Tanner Barrett and Josie Steehler report with data visualization by Nick Eng, students in Reno seem to be mostly on board.

 Question 5 on the Nevada ballot gives voters the chance to decide whether or not the state should adopt an automatic voter registration system at DMVs. Under the law eligible citizens would be automatically registered to vote whenever visiting the DMV to get license renewals, address changes, and more. Outside the DMV on Galletti Way and Kietzke Lane in Reno, Nevada. Photo by Tanner Barrett




When University of Nevada, Reno, students were asked about the measure they expressed their support and pointed toward the convenience it would bring to the registration process.


“I want automatic voter registration so that it’s more convenient for me and others to vote,” Mckenna Finnerty, a junior criminal justice major, said. “It just makes it easier for people and takes the hassle out of going through the whole process to get registered and change things.”


The first state to adopt an automatic voter registration system was Oregon in 2015. The state saw an overall increase in voter turnout just a year later in the 2016 presidential election.


 Data Visualization by Nick Eng.


Increased Turnout?


Dr. Horohito Norhatan, a political science department advisor at UNR, hopes to see similar results in Nevada if the question passes.


“I will say yes. Technology should be used to advance our democracy. It will potentially increase voting turnout and it will be more convenient for people,” he said.


Hailey Buck, a senior community health science major, explained her support of the question by sharing how if the law had already been in place, she may have been able to avoid missing out on her right to vote in the last election.


“Yes [on 5] because for a year I thought I was registered and then the presidential election came up and I couldn’t vote because I actually wasn’t registered,” she said.


 Off campus, some groups are extremely opposed to a Yes on Question 5. A screengrab from the Twitter feed of Nevadans Can makes the case that easier registration will increase the potential for voter fraud.


Divisions along Party Lines


If someone is already registered to vote and goes to the DMV their information will be used to update state voter rolls, thereby ensuring their information will be more accurate when they visit the polls.


Before appearing on the ballot, the law was passed in the 2017 Nevada state legislative session on partisan lines only to be vetoed and sent to public vote by Gov. Brian Sandoval.


Democrats widely supported the bill, but Republicans along with Sandoval argued the law would take away people’s right to decide to register to vote or not even though the law states otherwise.


If citizens do not want their information to be used to register to vote they may opt out of the automatic registration process in writing.


The lack of opposition students expressed toward Ballot Question 5 reveals students, who, according to the Secretary of State’s office are among the age group with the lowest amount of active registered voters in the state (18–24), want that to change — and Question 5 may be their best shot at making it happen come 2020.


Reporting by Tanner Barrett and Josie Steehler with data visualization by Nick Eng for the Reynolds Sandbox
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