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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Dems Must Address NVRA Failures

Project Vote has a post that ought to command concern and attention from a broad spectrum of Democrats, “Low-Income Americans Denied Voter Registration Opportunities, New Report Shows.” The post summarizes the findings of an important new study “Unequal Access: Neglecting the National Voter Registration Act, 1995-2007” conducted by Project Vote and Demos, indicates that for the 12 years after this hard-won law was enacted “Voter registrations from public agencies that provide services to low-income Americans have declined dramatically.”
In examining state-by-state data, the post notes,

…In states across the nation—Virginia, Florida, Texas, Nevada and many others—public assistance agencies are neglecting to offer voter registration to all clients and applicants, as required by the law. Because of noncompliance with the NVRA, the rights of thousands of low-income citizens are violated daily…Registrations from public assistance agencies have declined 79 percent between 1995, when the Act was first implemented in, and 2006; in other words, registrations declined from 2.6 million to just 540,000 by the 2005-2006 reporting period. Field investigations and analysis of available data strongly suggest that low registration rates are a result of states’ noncompliance with the law.

It comes as no shock that, according to the report, “Department of Justice has failed in recent years to actively enforce the public assistance provisions of the NVRA.” The harm done to Democratic candidates is considerable. In 2006, for example, 13 million voting-age citizens from households earning less than $25,000 were not registered.
More surprising is the decline in some states that had Democratic governors or secretaries of state during the period of the study. Can’t blame the GOP for that; It’s on us.

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