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TANF-ACF-IM-2011-03 (The National Voter Registration Act of 1993)

Published: March 1, 2011
Audience:
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
Topics:
Data Collection and Reporting
Types:
Information Memoranda (IM)
Tags:
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993

TO:

State Agencies Administering Approved Public Assistance Programs and Other Interested Parties

SUBJECT:

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993

REFERENCE:

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) P.L. 103-31; TANF-ACF-PI-97-2; ACF-IM-96-2; ACF-IM-95-8; ACF-IM-95-6; ACF-IM-94-8; ACF-AT-94-7; ACF-IM-94-4; ACF-IM-93-5; and The Department of Justice (DOJ) website: http://www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/nvra/activ_nvra.php

PURPOSE:

This Information Memorandum (IM) is to remind State TANF agencies of requirements found in the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and to encourage them to reassess their current procedures for registering individuals to vote and to make improvements in their systems where necessary.

BACKGROUND:

Congress enacted the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (also known as the “NVRA” and the “Motor Voter Act”) to enhance voting opportunities for every American. The Act has made it easier for all Americans to register to vote and to maintain their registration.

The NVRA requires States to provide the opportunity to apply to register to vote for Federal elections by three provisions:

Section 5 of the Act requires States to provide individuals with the opportunity to register to vote at the same time that they apply for a driver's license or renew a driver's license, and requires the State to forward the completed application to the appropriate State and local election official.

Section 6 of the Act provides that individuals can register to vote by mail using mail-in forms developed by each State or the Federal Election Assistance Commission (EAC). The Federal form is available on the EAC’s web site at: http://www.eac.gov/voter_resources/register_to_vote.aspx .

Section 7 of the Act requires States to offer voter registration to all offices that provide public assistance and all offices that administer State-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities. Each applicant for any of these services, renewal of services, or address changes must be provided with a voter registration form and a declination form as well as assistance in completing the form and forwarding the application to the appropriate State or local election official. States must also provide the same level of assistance to all applicants in completing voter-registration application forms as is provided with respect to every other service or application for benefits (unless the applicant specifically refuses such assistance). Many Section 7 designated agencies/offices routinely provide services/assistance such as application for, or renewal of, services or change-of-address notifications through the internet, by telephone, or by mail. States should ensure the availability of voter-registration opportunities to individuals using such remote service/assistance opportunities from designated agencies. Thus, for all such internet transactions, States should advise of the opportunity to register to vote, and should provide some online capability to download or request a voter-registration form. Further, when upgrading technology related to the application/recertification/change of address process at Section 7 agencies, States should ensure that such upgrade includes the voter registration process.

The NVRA became effective in most States on January 1, 1995. The Act applies to 44 States and the District of Columbia. Section 4(b) of the Act provided that States were exempt from the Act if, as of August 1, 1994, they had no voter registration requirements or had election-day registration at polling places. These six States are Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Likewise, the territories are not covered by the NVRA (Puerto Rico, Guam, Virgin Islands, American Samoa).

INQUIRIES:

Inquiries should be directed to the appropriate Regional Office TANF Program Manager.

 

/s/
Earl S. Johnson
Director
Office of Family Assistance