NC Audit: 75% of Public Assistance Visits Lack Voter Registration Option, Violating Federal Law
A tip of the hat to DocDawg for bringing the following information to light:
According to federal law, specifically the National Voter Registration Act of 1993,, North Carolina must offer an opportunity for voter registration whenever a person comes to a public assistance office for help. And yet, when the voting-rights activist organizations Dēmos, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Project Vote and Southern Coalition for Social Justice carried out a series of auditing visits to public assistance offices in October of 2014, this is what they found (quoted letter follows):
Field observations confirm that frontline staff at DHHS offices consistently fail to distribute voter registration applications to public assistance clients, as required by the NVRA.
While workers at some public assistance offices described NVRA-compliant procedures, their factual assertions were not supported by interviews conducted with clients exiting the offices. For example, interviews conducted with 196 DHHS clients – who reported that they were eligible to vote and had engaged in a covered transaction – revealed:
- Three-quarters of interviewees received no offer of voter registration of any kind. Specifically, 146 clients (74.5%) did not see a voter registration question on their forms, were not verbally asked whether they would like to receive a voter registration application, and did not receive a voter registration application.
- At offices that claimed to distribute voter registration applications to everyone, 74% of interviewees stated that they had neither (i) received an application, nor (ii) declined the opportunity to register to vote, either verbally or in writing.
- At the four offices that claimed to ask each client whether s/he would like a voter registration application, 92% of the interviewees stated that they had not seen or responded to a voter registration question on their forms, and 93% of interviewees stated that no one had verbally offered them a registration application.
… Significantly, six of the 19 offices (31.6%) lacked even the materials, procedures, and/or infrastructure to comply with the NVRA:
- Four offices did not have voter registration applications onsite;
- One office failed to collect any voter registration applications; and
- One office provided voter registration applications to clients only upon request.
These changes for the worse happened after Republican Pat McCrory took over as Governor of North Carolina. Why would a Republican administration act against federal law in a way that lowers voter registration among the poor? You won’t have to think too hard to come up with an answer.