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Nevada’s new Voter Registration and Election Management System (VREMS) that has been in development since early 2023 has had some trouble during testing for a mock election last week. The issues experienced by the counties caused the Nevada Secretary of State to push back the go-live date to July of this year, shortly after the Primary election and only a few months before the General.  Some Nevada counties appear to be reluctant to cut over to the new system without more extensive testing given the importance of the system and the risks associated with it not working perfectly, and they are right to be concerned.

Broadly speaking, the voter registration system is responsible for registering and updating voters, things like determining if a registrant is eligible to vote, assigning districts and precincts, generating mailings, even managing early and absentee ballots. The election management system (EMS) can be responsible for everything from assigning candidates and races, printing ballots, aggregating all the election and voter information to ensure the right voter gets the right ballot on election day, and that the tabulation results at the end of the election are captured and reported correctly. An election cannot run without these two systems, and they are of great importance to officials.

In 2017, the Department of Homeland Security designated election systems as critical infrastructure, given the vital role they play in this country. Ensuring that software systems undergo meticulous testing procedures to mitigate risks, enhance user experience, and uphold organizational credibility are basic necessities for a system deemed to be critical. There are detrimental consequences of launching inadequately tested applications, the 3 month go-live date extension by the Nevada SoS underscores the necessity of robust testing frameworks in safeguarding against potential pitfalls.

Launching an election system prematurely, without comprehensive testing, propagates risks that can endanger the ability of election officials to perform their duties and tarnish reputations that are already strained. Whether it is a benign glitch or a catastrophic failure, the ramifications of deploying defective software are far-reaching. The ensuing downtime, loss of public trust, and compromised data integrity inflict substantial damage, on the relationship between voters, technology, and election officials.

Officials in charge of such critical systems must adhere to a systematic testing regimen that encompasses a variety of scenarios. In the election world this is generally going to be best represented by a mock primary election, where the largest number of ballot styles and races exist alongside unique registration and reporting methods. By subjecting the EMS software to rigorous testing iterations, developers can preemptively detect and rectify anomalies, thereby enhancing the robustness and reliability of the final product.

Regular system upgrades are necessary to remain efficient and effective as time moves on, and the Nevada election officials certainly recognize this. What they should not rush however, is deploying a system that has failed to prove itself in testing before a major election in a presidential cycle. A presidential election is like the Olympics for election workers, it only happens once every 4 years and everyone is watching. No athlete in the world would wear a brand-new pair of shoes or use an untrained technique before the biggest event of their career, and no election official should be rushed to use a completely new system for their main event.

At the Voter Reference Foundation, we look forward to Nevada’s new top-down system, we frequently request information from the individual Nevada counties and the data is often in different formats between counties and completely unobtainable from others, so a top-down system will improve our efforts. However as former election officials ourselves, we have been through implementations of new election and voter registration systems and understand the difficulty and risk associated with them. Which is why we encourage the Nevada SoS to not deploy this new system in advance of the General election, and to wait until an appropriate downtime after the election to go live.

More information about the Nevada VREMS system can be found at the following links:
Nevada VREMS Project Page: Voter Registration & Election Management Solution Project | Nevada Secretary of State (
Nevada Globe (Overview of project delay): NV SOS Reverses Course, Delays Top-Down Election Management System – Nevada Globe (