Automatic Voter Registration (AVR)
What is AVR: Nevada voters overwhelmingly approved automatic voter registration in 2018 (59.57 percent in favor). When a resident receives a driver’s license at the DMV, they are automatically registered to vote if they meet the qualifications such as: 18 years old or will be 18 by the next election, their residence is confirmed, and they are a citizen.
Myth: Non-citizens are automatically registered to vote
Those who apply for a driver’s authorization card or those who apply for a driver’s license but cannot show relevant paperwork to prove their citizenship (birth certificate or naturalization paperwork) will not have their information sent to us by the DMV. If the DMV makes a mistake, it notifies the Secretary of State, which notifies our office, and the person is removed from the voting roll. This type of mistake is uncommon. Washoe County Registrar of Voters (ROV) staff have removed 19 voters from the rolls since January 2020 for being non-citizens, but this doesn’t mean they aren’t or weren’t citizens. This is due to them marking “no” to the citizenship question on a registration application. We put them in a “pend” status and send them correspondence and if they do not respond, we cancel their registration at that time. Again, this means that they failed to provide the affirmation of citizenship on the application.
Myth: AVR changes my political party against my wishes
There is a section on the AVR form to mark your political affiliation. However, if you don’t choose a party, you will be registered as nonpartisan. If you are unsure if you marked it, you can always check your registration status and make updates on the Nevada Secretary of State’s website.
Washoe County’s voter database is dynamic, meaning that is constantly being updated, so reporting is a snapshot of that point in time. The Canvass of the Vote, 10 days after Election Day, is the final, confirmed number of votes cast in an election. Any information prior to that should be considered preliminary and subject to change.
Myth: Registered voters increased by more than 180,000 in the last two years, but the number of actual registered voters has not increased that high. This is not possible.
We have added many registered voters to the rolls, and have removed many voters from the rolls. You cannot add up the new voters without also taking into account the removed voters. Voters can become inactive, move or pass away, so the active voter count is dynamic. We also receive numerous registrations through Automatic Voter Registration (DMV), but most of them are to update existing voter registrations.
Myth: Inactive voters can’t vote.
“Inactive” simply means that a voter has an incomplete registration, their address can’t be confirmed, or they have not actively voted in the last two elections. An inactive voter can still vote, but they will be required to update their registration or verify their address.
If someone’s election mail is returned to us, we send a voter verification card. If they do not return it within 30 days, they are made “inactive.”
Myth: An election worker could switch someone’s registration status so they can vote, and then switch it back without anyone knowing.
An inactive voter will be asked to verify and update their address when they appear to vote. Their Voter Update Card from the polling location will be submitted to the Registrar’s office and their record will be updated. It is at this moment that their status will become “active.” Our database has a transaction log for every voter record, and any and all changes to a voter’s record is tracked. To claim that changes can be made without anyone knowing is untrue.
Myth: I received a postcard saying that I’m no longer registered to vote. Someone has removed me from the rolls.
In an effort to increase voter registration or campaign for a candidate or issue, political parties and advocacy groups will often send information to residents. The information may be politically motivated, misleading, or inaccurate. The only reliable sources of election information in Washoe County are the Washoe County Registrar of Voters or the Nevada Secretary of State.
Voter fraud is a felony, and there are numerous checks within the election process to prevent fraud.
Myth: If I receive two ballots, it means that I can vote twice.
First, it’s important to know that when a new ballot is issued, the previous ballot is invalidated. So even if someone receives two ballots, only the most recent one is valid. The most common reason for people receiving more than one ballot is due to any changes to their registration within mailing deadlines. So if a person changed their name because they got married, or if they changed their party affiliation, this would trigger the system to print a new ballot, and make the previous ballot not valid.
Myth: I can vote by mail and vote in person.
This is voter fraud, and it is a felony. Additionally once a person has voted, they are marked as having voted in our database, so any subsequent votes would not be valid. Even if they think they have successfully cast a second vote, our system will not allow it to be counted, and it will be flagged as potential fraud and will be investigated by the Secretary of State.
Myth: I moved and still received a ballot at my old address. This is voter fraud.
It is incumbent on a resident to update their address and/or their voter registration. The registrar’s office receives notifications from the National Change of Address Program and will update its voter rolls with the notifications, but if a resident does not update their address or does not register in their new county, we cannot be made aware of their move. If a change of address form or a new registration is made after certain deadlines, a ballot may still be issued to the previous address, but it would not be valid as it would not be the most recent ballot issued for that voter.
Myth: I received a ballot for my dead grandfather. This is voter fraud.
There are numerous ways that the Registrar of Voters checks and updates its voter database. The ROV also receives information from the Secretary of State’s Office through the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) system, which includes information if someone has moved to another county and registered to vote there, or has been reported as deceased to Vital Statistics. Families can inform us of a loved one’s death, and we can verify deaths with obituaries. However, these updates to our system can only be made when we are informed of a death. If someone who is dead has received a ballot, it is because we have not been notified of their death.
Myth: I received someone else’s ballot at my home, so I’m going to vote with it because it’s no big deal. They can’t catch me.
This IS voter fraud, and it is a felony. One very obvious way to be caught is that the signature you provide on the fraudulent ballot will not match the signature on file. We will call the person whose ballot is in question, and when their signature cannot be verified, the ballot will not be counted and the person who attempted to vote with it will be investigated for fraud.
It is possible that someone may have accidentally put down the incorrect address number on their registration. UOCAVA (Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act), our military, their dependents and overseas voters, may use their last known address in the county to register and vote. We also have college students that can remain registered here even though they are going to college elsewhere. If you receive a ballot in someone else’s name at your home, just write “Return to Sender” and send back to our office.
Myth: Homeless people voting is voter fraud.
Every eligible citizen has the right to vote, even if they do not have a permanent address. This is not fraud. Those without homes can register to vote and often use street corners where they live at that time to register to vote. There are also individuals who live in their RV and drive to various destinations. Those individuals may register using an application called “NFR” (no fixed residence). However they do have to prove that they can claim Nevada as their domicile with their vehicle registration or financial institution within the state. These individuals are only eligible to vote in Presidential races. This is different from homeless individuals, whom we can precinct based on where they lay their head down at night; they are able to vote a full ballot.
Myth: Voter fraud is common.
True fraud is extremely rare. The most common reason for a potentially fraudulent vote is that someone mailed in their ballot, forgot about it, and appeared in person to vote. According to what our office submitted to the Nevada Secretary of State in the 2020 General Election, 26 people attempted to vote twice, 6 potentially voted in another state, 8 were potentially deceased, and 3 were potential non-citizens. These irregularities are submitted to the Secretary of State to investigate and prosecute if found to be true instances of fraud.
Myth: I like voting in person, but now I’m required to vote by mail because I received a ballot at my house.
If you receive a mail ballot, you do not have to use it to vote. You may still vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day. The Nevada State Legislature made mail-in ballots the default, meaning that all registered voters will receive a mail ballot. However, there is an option to opt out of receiving a ballot. You must fill out a Mail Ballot Preference Form from the Secretary of State’s Office at least 60 days before the next election. If you miss this deadline, your form will be accepted but it will not go into effect for the current election.
Myth: Washoe County imports election workers from other states in order to rig the votes.
By law, election workers must be Nevada residents, citizens, and registered voters. The confusion here may be that political parties hire “poll watchers” to observe voting and the counting of ballots, and the poll watchers may be from anywhere. It is the parties that do this, however, and the poll watchers cannot interfere with voting, they may only observe.
Myth: Signature verification is not secure.
Signature verification training is required for all employees whose responsibility it is to verify signatures. If there is a question of a signature matching, and the ballot has been reviewed by two staff members, the ballot is then challenged, and the “cure” process will begin. This process includes us sending correspondence to the voter to verify their identity. They can respond to the letter, call our office, or use Text2Cure. If they are not able to answer identifying questions, they may provide proof of identification, such as a driver’s license or an ID card. If they are able to confirm that this is their ballot, then the ballot is “cured” and counted. It is very difficult to forge a signature with enough accuracy to be successful, and it is a felony to try.
Myth: Voting machines are connected to the internet and easily hacked.
Machines and the server that tallies votes are “air gapped,” meaning they are not connected to any other machines or networks. They are not connected – wired or wireless – to the internet or cell services. The voting machines are tested before, during, and after elections and adhere to federal standards.