While national NVRA
compliance has dropped off sharply, some states have reinvigorated their efforts
and as a result have seen major upswings in the number of voters that are being
registered, especially at public assistance agencies. Working in
collaboration with Demos and Project Vote, the North Carolina Board of
Elections has implemented a compliance
plan that has increased monthly registrations from 484 in the years 2004
through 2006, to 2,529 in 2007. Iowa, Oregon, and Tennessee have also
made concerted efforts to improve compliance.
assistance agencies have seen the most significant compliance problems, and
they also provide the best opportunities to register voters whose voices are
underrepresented in the electorate. Project Vote has composed a basic
five part strategy that will help election officials achieve compliance at
Know the NVRA's public agency
registration requirements (NVRA Section 7).
Communicate frequently with
agency managers and staff.
Provide training and support
to agency personnel.
Monitor registrations from
public assistance agencies.
Review agency registration
performance and act on your findings.
Vote has also drafted model legislation in collaboration with Demos
that outlines more specifically the steps needed to get a state in compliance
with the federal law. With a very small outlay of resources and a bit of
interest and leadership, compliance with the federal law is easily
obtainable. Therefore, ensuring compliance should be a priority for all
legislators interested in increasing electoral participation in their state.
The federal Department of Veterans Affairs for months has been
embroiled in a controversy over its prohibition on voter registration
drives in veterans' facilities. Now 10 Secretaries of State and the
Attorney General of Connecticut have stepped into the maelstrom, demanding that the VA reverse its policy.
Late last month, Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz and
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal attempted to register voters at the
Veterans Affairs Hospital in West Haven. They were prevented by staff
from registering voters inside the facility, but they were able to
register a dozen veterans as they were leaving. One newly registered
voter is 92-year-old WWII veteran Martin Onieal.
Maintaining accurate voter rolls and ensuring that all eligible voters who register to vote actually make it onto voting rolls are two of the most important functions of election administration.If an eligible voter cannot vote because his name doesn't appear on the voter roll used in an election, the problem will not be addressed by the federal guarantee of a provisional ballot. Such a ballot cannot register a person to vote, it can only preserve a ballot in the case the voter rolls at the precinct are mistaken or the