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National Voting Rights Act (NVRA) Compliance

Overview

While national NVRA compliance has dropped off sharply, some states have reinvigorated their efforts and as a result have seen major upswings in the number of voters that are being registered, especially at public assistance agencies.  Working in collaboration with Demos and Project Vote, the North Carolina Board of Elections has implemented a compliance plan that has increased monthly registrations from 484 in the years 2004 through 2006, to 2,529 in 2007.  Iowa, Oregon, and Tennessee have also made concerted efforts to improve compliance.

Public assistance agencies have seen the most significant compliance problems, and they also provide the best opportunities to register voters whose voices are underrepresented in the electorate.  Project Vote has composed a basic five part strategy that will help election officials achieve compliance at these agencies:

  1. Know the NVRA's public agency registration requirements (NVRA Section 7).
  2. Communicate frequently with agency managers and staff.
  3. Provide training and support to agency personnel.
  4. Monitor registrations from public assistance agencies.
  5. Review agency registration performance and act on your findings.

Project Vote has also drafted model legislation in collaboration with Demos that outlines more specifically the steps needed to get a state in compliance with the federal law.  With a very small outlay of resources and a bit of interest and leadership, compliance with the federal law is easily obtainable.  Therefore, ensuring compliance should be a priority for all legislators interested in increasing electoral participation in their state.

States Apply Pressure to Allow Voter Registration Drives in Veterans' Facilities

The federal Department of Veterans Affairs for months has been embroiled in a controversy over its prohibition on voter registration drives in veterans' facilities.  Now 10 Secretaries of State and the Attorney General of Connecticut have stepped into the maelstrom, demanding that the VA reverse its policy.  Late last month, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and Attorney General Richard Blumenthal attempted to register voters at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in West Haven.  They were prevented by staff from registering voters inside the facility, but they were able to register a dozen veterans as they were leaving.  One newly registered voter is 92-year-old WWII veteran Martin Onieal.

Voter Registration: Steps States Can Take to Help Voters Register and Keep Them Registered

Maintaining accurate voter rolls and ensuring that all eligible voters who register to vote actually make it onto voting rolls are two of the most important functions of election administration.  If an eligible voter cannot vote because his name doesn't appear on the voter roll used in an election, the problem will not be addressed by the federal guarantee of a provisional ballot.  Such a ballot cannot register a person to vote, it can only preserve a ballot in the case the voter rolls at the precinct are mistaken or the