Voting rights activists are threatening to sue North Carolina for failing to adhere to federal registration law. Attorneys for Action NC, Democracy North Carolina, the North Carolina A. Philip Randolph Institute, and North Carolina residents forwarded a pre-litigation notice letter on Monday to State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach, N.C. Secretary of Transportation Tony Tata and Commissioner of Motor Vehicles Kelly Thomas alleging that the state Department of Motor Vehicles isn’t meeting voter registration obligations set by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. The legislation, commonly known as the “Motor Voter Law,” requires voter registration services whenever a resident applies for, renews, or changes their address on a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. DMVs are then required to transmit the information to the appropriate election official within 10 days, or five days if the change of information is within five days of the close of registration.
“Voters who either registered to vote or updated their voter information through the DMV are routinely being told that they are not on the rolls when they go to the polls to vote,” said Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina. “They are being cheated out of their right to vote.”
The letter was sent three weeks after activists notified North Carolina that it was in violation of NVRA requiring the state to provide public assistance clients the opportunity to register to vote. The letter gives state officials notice that it’s failed to comply with the federal statute, starting a 90-day window to comply or face litigation.
“Transmittal problems are not limited to an office or geographic region,” said Stuart Naifeh, counsel at Demos, one of the groups threatening the suit. “The problem is systemic—it’s occurring across the State and affecting voters of all political persuasions. North Carolina needs to take immediate steps to make sure that its citizens are not being disenfranchised as a result of errors by the DMV or election officials.”