The Public Agency Registration Project
Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993 to increase the number of citizens registered to vote in Federal elections. It is often referred to as the “motor voter” law because it requires states to offer voter registration with driver’s license application and renewal.
An equally important but less well-known provision of the NVRA is the requirement that states offer voter registration opportunities to clients and applicants of public assistance programs. Programs covered by the NVRA include Food Stamps, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Medicaid. Public assistance offices are in a unique position to increase voter registration rates among low-income citizens, furthering the intent of the NVRA to increase registration among populations underrepresented on the voter registration rolls.
Fifteen years after the NVRA went into effect, only a handful of states are consistently complying with the requirement to offer voter registration services to clients and applicants of public assistance programs. In fact, voter registration applications from public assistance agencies has declined by 79 percent between 1995-1996 and 2005-2006. The Public Agency Registration Project was created to address this problem.
The Project is a joint effort by Project Vote, a leading nonpartisan, nonprofit provider of voter engagement services and Demos, a national voting rights and election reform policy organization. The Project assists states, social service agencies, and election officials with implementation of public agency registration. In addition to technical assistance, the Project documents noncompliance and, when necessary, initiates litigation to enforce the NVRA.
For more information contact
, Director of the NVRA Implementation Project.