A new analysis of voter registration data shows that under the McCrory administration, North Carolina may be systematically failing to provide state residents with the opportunity to register to vote when they apply for public assistance — such as food stamps or welfare — in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.
Commonly called the “Motor Voter Law,” the Act requires public assistance agencies and motor vehicle offices to provide voter registration services whenever someone applies for benefits, renews or recertifies benefits, or changes an address with the agency, unless the person declines these services in writing.
Affected programs include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (“SNAP”), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (“TANF”), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (“WIC”), the Medicaid program, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (“CHIP”).
According to Democracy NC, voter registration applications initiated at public assistance agencies have dropped dramatically since McCrory took office. They fell from an annual average of 38,400 between 2007 and 2012 to an average of only 16,000 in the past two years, a decline of more than 50 percent.
The organization also reports that last fall it and other voting-rights groups checked out 19 public assistance agencies across the state and found after interviews that up to 75 percent of the clients at the agencies did not see a registration question on agency forms and were not asked whether they would like to register to vote, as required by federal law.
Also, according to this piece in the The Daily Kos:
From 1995 through 2012, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBOE) published on its web site annual summaries (in the form of Excel spreadsheets) of its NVRA compliance data. But, beginning in 2013 (when McCrory took office), that practice appears to have come to a halt, and no annual summaries are available there for McCrory’s term (2013-2014).
Here’s a graph from that article showing the apparent decline:
Democracy NC, Action NC, and the A. Philip Randolph Institute sent a notice letter today to the State Board of Elections and the Department of Health and Human Services, advising both of their findings and giving the state 90 days to comply with the law or face yet another voting rights lawsuit.
North Carolina is already in the throes voting rights battles in the courts. Three federal lawsuits — including one brought by the Justice Department — and another action in state court, all concerning the state’s so called “Monster Voting Law,” are now pending.
The state is also fighting a challenge to its 2011 voter redistricting plan, a case that is now back in state Supreme Court after being remanded by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.