Two bills adopting at federal election reform approved

Two measures designed to bring Nevada into compliance with federal election reforms were approved Tuesday as the halfway-point deadline arrived in the 2003 Legislature.

Senate Bill 417 won final approval with concurrence on an Assembly clarification. That measure had to pass before the end of this month in order for Nevada to qualify for at least $10.7 million to pay for implementing the Help America Vote Act. Without it, Secretary of State Dean Heller told lawmakers during a committee hearing, Nevada would lose the money but still have to comply with the federal law.

And the Senate voted unanimously to pass SB453, which implements the requirements for the act. It creates a centralized, computerized statewide voter registration list, spells out procedures for using different types of ballot systems and mandates upgrades in voting systems between now and 2006.

It ensures all voters who claim they are eligible get the right to cast a ballot on election day. Those ballots are held until the right to vote is verified but the purpose of the law is to make sure no one is denied the right to vote because of an error in the registration list.

SB453 would allow voters in Nevada to register as late as five days before the opening of early voting -- 20 days before election day -- provided they appear in person at their county clerk's office to do so.

It includes a long list of requirements designed to make voting more accessible and to encourage people to turn out at the polls.

SB453 goes to the Assembly for review.


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