Demos Statement On Alleged Destruction Of Voter Registration Forms In Nevada

Release Date: 
October 29, 2004

New York, NY — Today Demos, a national, nonpartisan organization dedicated to promoting democracy, issued a statement regarding the brewing voter registration scandal in Nevada, where political consulting firm Sproul and Associates, sometimes operating as Voter Outreach of America, has been accused of destroying registration forms completed during a months-long voter registration drive.

Reports from former employees that Sproul routinely destroyed completed registration forms of Democrats may lead to criminal investigations in Nevada and elsewhere. Sproul, which reportedly has been paid more than $1 million by the Republican National Committee for voter registration and political consulting around the country since last summer, has also been accused of misrepresenting itself as part of a nationwide registration drive being conducted by America Votes. Sproul has denied any wrongdoing.

In response to the controversy and reports from other states that forms completed during voter registration drives were never submitted to election officials, Demos President Miles Rapoport said, "These charges should be investigated and anyone found to have willfully destroyed voter registration forms should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Moreover, election officials in Nevada should make every effort to ensure that citizens who have been the victim of such malfeasance have an opportunity to have their vote count."

A longer term solution to problems like this lies in a reform that Demos has long advocated: Election Day Registration ("EDR"). Also known as "same-day voter registration," EDR permits eligible citizens to register and vote on Election Day. Currently, six states have EDR. They boast voter turnout 8-15 percentage points higher than the national average, and report few problems with fraud, excessive cost, or administrative complications. The Nevada legislature considered adopting EDR for the state last year, but did not approve the measure. At the time, Secretary of State Dean Heller expressed support for EDR.

"This episode illustrates that we are terribly vulnerable to voter registration scams that might deny eligible voters their say and also to inadvertent errors with the same effect," said Rapoport. "Election Day Registration is one of the surest ways to eliminate bureaucratic barriers to voting. If Nevada voters could register and vote on Election Day then we wouldn't face this quandary. Nevadans not on the voting rolls for whatever reason could simply go to the polls, fill out the appropriate forms, prove their eligibility, and cast their votes.

"Secretary Heller should be commended for his longstanding leadership on this reform. It's time for other Nevada officials to join him and support the implementation of EDR for future elections."

For more information, or to read the Demos Election Wire, please visit http://www.demos-usa.org/.

Demos: A Network for Ideas & Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization based in New York.

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