Voting Rights Groups Sue Pennsylvania for Failing to Help Register Low-Income Citizens
Today, Project Vote and our partners—including Demos and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law–filed suit against the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for failing to offer voter registration services to low-income citizens.
The suit—which names Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, Secretary of Public Welfare Gary D. Alexander, and Secretary of Health Dr. Eli N. Avila—alleges that Pennsylvania has systematically failed to comply with Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), which requires public assistance agencies to offer voter registration services. Despite increasing numbers of applicants for public assistance, voter registration applications received from these agencies have decreased by a staggering 93% in recent years, from 59,462 in 1995-1996 to just 4,179 in 2009-2010.
The suit was filed on behalf of the Black Political Empowerment Project (B-PEP) and ACTION United. As a result of the Commonwealth’s failures, these organizations are forced to expend resources helping to register citizens who would otherwise be registered by the Commonwealth.
Today’s lawsuit is just the latest step taken by our Public Agency Voter Registration Program to ensure that all states are in compliance with the NVRA. Last month, our coalition filed a similar lawsuit against the State of Nevada, and filed pre-litigation notice letters in three additional states: Alabama, Arkansas, and Florida. We currently have active lawsuits in Louisiana and Massachusetts, and we have successfully settled cases in Missouri, Ohio, Indiana, New Mexico, and Georgia.
“Public assistance offices are in a unique position to increase voter registration rates among low-income citizens, the disabled, and racial minorities,” said Sarah Brannon, director of the Public Agency Voter Registration Program for Project Vote, in a press release on the case. “Pennsylvania should realize this potential and correct the inadequacies within its system.” READ MORE.