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Federal Appeals Court Rules That N.M. Violated Federal Law, Failing to Provide Voter Registration Applications to Public Assistance Clients E-mail
February 22, 2012

The federal Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that the State of New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) violated Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) by improperly withholding voter registration applications from certain public assistance clients. The decision came in a federal lawsuit brought against state officials by a coalition voting rights groups and attorneys, including the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote, and Dēmos; the Albuquerque law firm of Freedman Boyd Hollander Goldberg Ives & Duncan, and the law firm of DLA Piper, on behalf of Albuquerque resident Shawna Allers.
This major development concerned the HSD policy of providing a voter registration application to a public assistance client only if the client specifically requests an application. Section 7 requires New Mexico and most other states to offer voter registration to public assistance clients when they apply for benefits, periodically recertify their benefits eligibility, or submit a change of address for receipt of benefits. Along with HSD officials, the New Mexico Secretary of State shares responsibility for ensuring that State agencies comply with the NVRA.  
Yesterday’s decision affirmed a December 2010 judgment of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico, holding that Section 7 public assistance agencies must provide a voter registration application to each client engaged in a covered transaction (that is, a benefits application, recertification or change of address), unless the client declines in writing, and that HSD’s policy violated the express language of the statute.  
Voting for America Sues Texas on Behalf of Voters and the U.S. Constitution E-mail

February 13, 2012

Galveston, TX – Citing clear evidence that Texas’s election code related to voter registration violates the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and the U.S. Constitution in several ways, Voting for America, an affiliate of Project Vote, filed suit today against the state of Texas. 

The suit—which names Texas Secretary of State Hope Andrade and Galveston County Assessor and Collector of Taxes and Voter Registrar Cheryl Johnson as defendants—states that Texas election code impedes the efforts of community-based voter registration drives to assist community members to register to vote, and blocks access to the voter rolls to ensure that those citizens have been added to the rolls. The suit seeks to obtain declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting the defendants from enforcing provisions of the Texas Election Code that violate the NVRA and the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. 

“Texas rules have created a voter registration system characterized by criminal penalties and vague and unduly burdensome requirements that subvert major tenets of the NVRA and violate the Constitution,” says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote and Voting for America. “Current Texas law would make it nearly impossible for voter registration organizations to conduct their work in the state.” 

Voting rights are still under attack in 2012, but voting rights advocates see some signs of hope E-mail
February 7, 2012

Washington, DC - The first month of this election year has already seen a concerted and coordinated movement to roll back voting rights across the country. In January 2012, more than a dozen states have introduced legislation that would make it harder for eligible Americans to register, vote, and cast ballots that count. Bills that require photo voter ID, demand proof-of-citizenship documentation, and implement harsh restrictions on community-based voter registration drives are being considered across the country with the intent to suppress the electorate for partisan gain. 
These legislative trends, which could have a powerful impact on turnout in the 2012 election and beyond, are summarized in a new report released Monday by the nonpartisan voting rights organization Project Vote. “With an estimated 60 million eligible Americans not registered to vote, our democracy still has a long way to go to be truly representational,” says Michael Slater, executive director of Project Vote. “Our legislators should be working to bring down barriers to voting, not erecting new ones.”
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