Divided panel OKs Nevada election plan
CARSON CITY ” A state panel voted today for a plan to ensure that Nevada meets requirements of the federal Help America Vote Act ” over objections of one member who said the plan doesn’t do enough to help improve “disgraceful” voter participation.
Richard Siegel, head of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, voted against the plan when it came up for a vote at a meeting of an advisory committee to Secretary of State Ross Miller, the state’s chief election official.
Miller said policies to improve voter participation will be discussed by another state panel, meeting here Oct. 18. But Siegel said it’s a “cop-out” for the HAVA panel to only touch on various ways to get more voters to the polls in 2008.
Miller said he agreed that voter activity has been “absolutely pathetic” in Nevada, but questioned whether the state plan on HAVA compliance was the best vehicle for efforts to increase voter registration and turnout in elections.
LaVonne Brooks, also on the HAVA panel, backed Siegel in saying some members of the committee had “great aspirations for this document having some teeth.”
Voter turnout in the 2006 general election was just over 59 percent of the state’s nearly 1 million registered voters. The total registration was only about half of an estimated 2 million Nevadans who were 18 or older and eligible to vote.
The 2006 turnout was well down from the 2004 general election, a presidential year, when 77 percent of the voters went to the polls. Since 2008 is another presidential election year, the turnout is expected to approach or surpass the 2004 percentage.
President Bush’s bitter 2000 Florida recount battle with Democrat Al Gore ” with its confusing “butterfly ballots,” half-perforated punch ballots and allegations of voter intimidation ” led to HAVA’s approval.
Since 2003, Nevada has received $23.6 million in HAVA funds for wide-ranging election improvements, including voting machine replacement. About $8.5 million of that money has not yet been spent.
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