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December 17, 2018

NC Sued for Allegedly Violating National Voter Registration Act

The state is not fulfilling its legal obligations to provide reliable voter-registration services to its citizens, according to allegations made by several voting-rights groups in a lawsuit filed Tuesday.

The plaintiffs assert that there are numerous instances of citizens finding they’re not actually registered to vote, even after requesting their registration through the state Department of Motor Vehicles. The National Voter Registration Act – commonly called the “Motor Voter” law – requires states to offer registration to citizens when they apply for or renew their license and file the registration with the state.

Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, said the state isn’t always processing registrations.

“They’re not doing that,” he said, “and it’s a violation, and thousands of people are being deprived of what is a federal voting right.”

The groups point to a decline in the number of voter-registration applications originating from state agencies, including the DMV, beginning in 2012. According to data compiled by Democracy North Carolina, the number of new and updated voter registrations submitted from public agencies dropped from 41,000 in 2012, to slightly more than 13,000 last year. A spokeswoman from the DMV said the state is “looking into the claims” alleged in the suit.

Earlier this year, the groups issued two notice letters to the state, asking agencies to get in compliance with federal law. Hall said there are numerous examples of the impact of the state not complying with the law.

“What’s going on at the DMV, people believe that they are successfully registering when they tell the clerk they want to be registered to vote,” he said. “What happens is, they then show up to vote and their name is not on the registration roll.”

Gov. Pat McCrory recently said his administration would work to improve customer service at the DMV. Hall said the groups had hoped that would include addressing issues surrounding voter registration services.

Background information is online at nc-democracy.org.

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