Citing clear evidence that Alabama public assistance agencies are violating their federally-mandated responsibilities to offer tens of thousands of public assistance clients opportunities to register to vote, today attorneys from Demos, Project Vote, and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sent a pre-litigation notice letter to the Alabama Secretary of State on behalf of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP. The letter details violations of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) and demands that the Secretary act immediately to bring the state into full compliance with the law or face litigation. The groups forwarded copies of the letter to the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR) and Medicaid Agency.
Section 7 of the NVRA requires state public assistance agencies that administer federal programs such as Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly Food Stamps), and Medicaid to provide voter registration services to their applicants and clients. According to U.S. Election Assistance Commission data, the number of voter registration applications submitted at Alabama public assistance offices decreased by more than 75% from its peak in 1995-1996 to the most recent reporting period of 2009-2010. This drop in voter registrations is particularly significant given that the number of initial food stamp applications in Alabama during the same time frame increased by 60%.
Evidence cited in the notice letter strongly suggests that Alabama’s serious and widespread violations of the NVRA are responsible for the severe reduction in voter registration at its public agencies. The vast majority of DHR and Medicaid applicants and clients are not being offered voter registration opportunities, and many agency offices do not even have voter registration applications on hand.