‘Motor voter’ initiative will head to Legislature in 2017

CARSON CITY — An initiative petition that would automatically register motorists to vote unless they opt out will head to the Legislature next year after election officials in Nevada’s 17 counties reported the results of the signature-gathering effort on Thursday.

More than 125,000 signatures were turned in last month to county clerks for verification and the petition needed only 55,234 valid signatures to be approved.

While final numbers were not available Thursday, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that the measure qualified. It is expected to be certified on Friday.

The Automatic Voter Registration Initiative would amend state law to require the Department of Motor Vehicles to transmit information to the Secretary of State’s Office to register people who obtain, renew or change an address on a driver’s license or identification card.

People could opt out of the program. Right now, people can register to vote at the DMV, but they have to “opt in.”

The Nevada initiative is modeled after an Oregon law passed last year and implemented in January. Since it took effect the state has registered about 200,000 residents to vote.

The Legislature will have 40 days to act or the measure would automatically go to voters in 2018. The Legislature convenes on Feb. 6 and runs for 120 days.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.