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Massachusetts Failing to Offer Voter Registration to Public Assistance Clients E-mail
National and Local Groups Put Secretary of State Galvin on Notice of Voting Rights Violations

December 9, 2011

BOSTON- Citing clear evidence that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts is failing to provide low-income residents with a legally-mandated opportunity to register to vote, attorneys from Demos, Project Vote, and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law of the Boston Bar Association sent a pre-litigation notice letter on December 8, 2011 to Secretary of State William F. Galvin, on behalf of New England United for Justice. The letter was also forwarded to the state’s human services officials. The letter demands that the secretary immediately act to bring Massachusetts into compliance with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) or face litigation.

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), Medicaid, and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), to provide voter registration services to their clients. In the first two years after the NVRA became effective in Massachusetts in 1995, the State registered almost 27,000 people through public assistance agencies.

However, according to evidence cited in the notice letter, the majority of clients seeking these services are no longer being offered voter registration opportunities. For example, in 2009-2010, Massachusetts received only 2007 voter registration applications at public assistance agencies, a 92.6% drop from the peak at the time of the NVRA’s implementation. Significantly and contrary to the norm, a lower percentage of low-income Massachusetts residents were registered to vote in 2008, a presidential year, than in other years. In fact, among all states, Massachusetts had the sixth lowest turnout rate among its low-income citizens that year. Field investigations have found that public assistance clients around the state are not being provided with voter registration applications, contrary to the requirements of the NVRA.

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Project Vote Joins Case Against Florida Voter Suppression Law E-mail
October 25, 2011

Project Vote and its affiliate, Voting for America, were given permission by the federal district court in Washington, DC, to intervene in Florida’s case seeking preclearance of extensive voting changes passed by the legislature earlier this year as HB 1355. 
 
If approved, this controversial law will make it harder for Floridians to register to vote, vote, and have their votes counted. Among other provisions, HB 1355 reduces the number of days when early voting can occur, and imposes severe restrictions on registration drives like those engaged in and supported by Project Vote and Voting for America.
 
Under the federal Voting Rights Act, five Florida counties are required to seek “preclearance” of any voting changes from the United States Department of Justice or the federal court. The state of Florida has submitted four of the most discriminatory and regressive portions of the law for review in the US District Court for the District of Columbia. In August, attorneys from the ACLU and Project Vote filed a Motion to Intervene, which the court granted on October 19. (Read a press release on the motion here.) 
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ACLU, Project Vote File to Join Federal Court Review Of Voter Suppression Act E-mail

August 25, 2011

MIAMI – The American Civil Liberties Union, together with Project Vote, today filed a Motion to Intervene in the United States District Court’s review of the Voter Suppression Act (formerly House Bill 1355) which, if approved, will make it harder for Floridians to register to vote, harder to vote and harder to have that vote counted.
 
Governor Rick Scott and Secretary of State Kurt Browning withdrew the most discriminatory and regressive portions of the Voter Suppression Act from review by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) under the Voting Rights Act. With just days remaining before a decision deadline, the state chose instead to initiate a legal review of the provisions by the US District Court in the District of Columbia – a process which will take longer, cost more and continue the confusion, uncertainty and lack of uniformity of Florida’s voting laws.
 
“We’ve strongly objected to these voter suppression schemes from the beginning,” said Howard Simon, Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida. “After the state’s latest round of legal hide-and-seek, we’re asking the court to allow us to join the case on behalf of impacted Floridians who will see the right to cast their vote rolled back by these regressive and unnecessary changes to Florida’s voting laws.”

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