Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval vetoed a measure (IP1) that would have established mandatory, or automatic, voter registration (MVR) in Nevada. His veto message showed that Gov. Sandoval understands the risks to individual liberty and election integrity that MVR poses:
IP1 advances a worthy goal by encouraging more eligible Nevadans to register to vote. However, such a result must partner with sound policy. IP1 fails this test because it extinguishes a fundamental, individual choice—the right of eligible voters to decide for themselves whether they desire to apply to register to vote—forfeiting this basic decision to state government.
Supporters of IP1 argue that the government’s provision of an “opt-out” from the automatic application process substitutes for the decision by the individual to apply to register to vote. However, the core freedom of deciding whether one wishes to initiate voter registration belongs to the individual, not the government.
Moreover, if IP1 became law, it would create an unnecessary risk that people who are not qualified voters may unintentionally apply to vote, subjecting them to possible criminal prosecution, fines, and other legal action. . . .
The current DMV voter registration process provides the necessary balance for voluntary and informed voter registration. IP1 upsets that balance, removing the element of allowing an individual to initiate the voter registration process, and increasing the possibility of improper registration.
Instead of going back to the Nevada legislature, the measure will now go before Nevada voters during the general election in 2018. Gov. Sandoval also wisely recognized that the decision for Nevada to "mandate compulsory application for voter registration by the government" is best made by the people, whose liberties will be restricted by the change.
Thank you, Governor Sandoval, for understanding how dangerous compulsion by the government is, recognizing how easily MVR can lead to ineligible persons being registered to vote, and trusting the people of Nevada to make this important decision for themselves.