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National Issues

Congress Examines States’ Failure to Follow National Voter Registration Act PDF  | Print |  Email
By ProjectVote   
March 31, 2008
The House Committee on Administration’s Subcommittee on Elections will hold a hearing to examine state compliance with a federal law—the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)—that requires states to provide voter registration services to public assistance clients at 2 pm on April 1 in Room 1320 of the Longworth Building. The hearing responds to recent reports by advocates that many states are failing to comply with the NVRA and that the Justice Department is failing to enforce the law.

According to the nonpartisan voting rights organizations Project Vote and Demos, substantial evidence indicates low-income Americans in California, Missouri, Arizona, Florida, Ohio, New Mexico, and Colorado are systematically being denied the opportunity to register to vote. Their analysis shows that while most states are offering voter registration at departments of motor vehicles as required by the NVRA, many states are failing to offer citizens the opportunity to register at public assistance agencies, such as Food Stamp or Medicaid offices. Registration rates at public assistance agencies dropped 79 percent from 1996 to 2006. The result is that low-income Americans continue to be under-represented at the polls on Election Day, despite Congressional efforts to the contrary.

“Democracy works best when all Americans have an opportunity to participate,” stated Michael Slater, Deputy Director of Project Vote. “Today, low-income Americans are twice as likely to be unregistered as affluent Americans, despite the requirements of the NVRA. States have a responsibility to ensure all citizens have equal access to the polls on Election Day.” Slater will be presenting the results of Project Vote’s research at the Subcommittee on Election’s April 1 hearing.

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