|Indiana State Conference of the NAACP v. Gargano|
(Formerly NAACP v. Murphy)
Citing clear evidence that Indiana public assistance agencies have violated their federally mandated responsibility to offer tens of thousands of clients the opportunity to register to vote each year, Project Vote and its partner voting rights groups filed suit against officials in Indiana for violations of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Plaintiffs include the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and Paris Alexander, an Indiana resident and Food Stamp Program client who was not provided the opportunity to register to vote. The plaintiffs are represented by lawyers from Project Vote, Dēmos, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP, and the ACLU of Indiana, and by the law firms of Miner, Barnhill & Galland and Schwartz, Lichten, & Bright. Defendants include officials from Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA), the co-directors of the Indiana Election Division, and the members of the Indiana Election Commission.
The complaint alleges that Indiana public assistance agencies have been virtually ignoring their federal obligations under the NVRA to offer voter registration to all Indiana citizens who apply for public assistance at FSSA offices, including applicants for Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and Medicaid. Congress mandated that voter registration be offered at public assistance agencies (along with the more familiar “motor voter” requirement that registration be offered at motor vehicle bureaus) to ensure that low-income citizens would have the same opportunity for convenient voter registration as other residents.
The NVRA violations in Indiana are part of an ongoing national problem involving a failure by many states to provide the voter registration opportunities mandated by the statute.
On August 25, 2011, U.S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt approved the settlement that requires Indiana to implement specific measures to ensure that thousands of low-income residents have the opportunity to register to vote at state public assistance offices.
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