National Voting Rights Groups Put
Secretary of State Johnson on Notice of Voting Rights Violations
August 22, 2011
(Detroit, Michigan) - Citing clear evidence that the State of Michigan is
failing to provide low-income residents with a legally-mandated opportunity to
register to vote, attorneys from Demos, Project Vote, the Lawyers' Committee
for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), and the NAACP sent a pre-litigation notice
letter on August 19, 2011 to Secretary of State Ruth Johnson, on behalf of the
Michigan State Conference of the NAACP.
The letter demands that the Secretary immediately act to bring Michigan
into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) or face
Section 7 of the NVRA requires state public assistance agencies, which provide
services such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP),
Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid, to provide voter
registration services to their clients. In the first two years after the NVRA
became effective in Michigan in 1995, the State registered more than 79,500 people
through public assistance agencies.
However, according to evidence cited in the notice letter, the local
offices of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) have largely
disregarded this law in recent years. For example, looking at registration data for 2005-2006 and
2007-2008, there was an 82.5% decrease in the number of voter registration
applications submitted through public assistance agencies in Michigan – even
though 2008 included a historic presidential election for which high voter
registration at public assistance agencies would be expected. Field investigations found that public
assistance clients around the state are not being provided with voter
registration applications, contrary to the requirements of the NVRA.
Election Legislation Threats and Opportunities Update
As part of Project Vote's ongoing effort to keep you informed about the changing landscape of election legislation, we are pleased to provide the second installment this year in our ongoing Election Legislation Threats and Opportunities series.
Unfortunately, in 2011, it has become clear that most of the energy is being spent by partisan forces intent on passing restrictive voting laws designed to significantly reduce turnout in the 2012 election. While there have been some beneficial legislation passed—and an encouraging public outcry against voter ID and other restrictive measures in many states—the story so far is of a legislative onslaught designed to make it harder for Americans to vote.
Project Vote Communications Manager Erin Ferns Lee has been monitoring election legislation in all 50 states and the U.S. Congress. In this new memo, Erin provides a comprehensive analysis of recent election legislation successes and failures, and provides insight into what we can expect in 2012.
You can download this new memo here
July 21, 2011
(New Orleans, LA) – Today, a federal court rejected the State of
Louisiana's effort to dismiss a lawsuit regarding the State’s failure to
offer public assistance recipients the opportunity to register vote.
The court’s ruling means that public assistance clients and the
Louisiana State Conference of the NAACP can proceed with a lawsuit
claiming that the Louisiana Secretary of State, the Department of
Children and Family Services, and the Department of Health &
Hospitals are disenfranchising minority and low-income voters by failing
to offer them the opportunity to register to vote as required by the
federal National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
“The State must be held accountable for its continuing violations of
federal law, so that all Louisiana citizens have an opportunity to
vote,” said Dale Ho, Assistant Counsel with the NAACP Legal Defense
Fund, which is representing the plaintiffs along with Project Vote, a
Washington D.C.-based voting rights organization, and New Orleans
attorney Ronald Wilson.
The NVRA requires public assistance agencies, such as food stamps and
Medicaid offices, to offer their clients the opportunity to register to
vote with every application for benefits, renewal, recertification, or
change of address transaction. The plaintiffs’ complaint cites evidence
showing that Louisiana agencies are failing to carry out their
responsibilities under this law.
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