On December 19, 2013, the Lawyers’ Committee, together with pro bono counsel Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP and partners Demos and Project Vote, entered into out-of-court agreements with Alabama state officials to ensure compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) at state public assistance agencies. The agreements were entered into on behalf of the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP.
The NVRA requires that all public assistance offices in Alabama distribute a voter registration application each time a client applies for benefits, recertifies, or reports a change of address, unless the client affirmatively declines a registration application in writing. Our investigation, which included an analysis of registration data reported by the State to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, and contacts with individual public assistance offices and clients, showed that Alabama was not fulfilling its voter registration responsibilities under the NVRA, and apparently had not been doing so for many years.
The agreements detail specific procedures Alabama public assistance agencies must follow for distributing voter registration applications to public assistance clients during in-person and remote transactions. These procedures were fashioned to operate hand-in-hand with the procedures and technology used by Alabama’s Department of Human Resources (DHR) and the Alabama Medicaid Agency for processing public assistance matters. The agreements also specify that Alabama must provide regular training on voter registration for agency employees, gather and analyze data regarding voter registration at public assistance agencies, and implement various measures to monitor compliance at local offices, including consideration of voter registration duties in office-level and individual personnel reviews. The agreements will remain in effect for approximately three years, until November 30, 2016.
The negotiations followed a June 13, 2012 notice letter laying out the ways in which the public assistance agencies were not complying with the NVRA and indicating the groups’ intention to file a lawsuit if appropriate remedial measures were not taken.
- Click here to read the December 19, 2013 agreement regarding NVRA compliance at the Alabama Department of Human Resources.
- Click here to read the December 19, 2013 agreement regarding NVRA compliance at the Alabama Medicaid Agency.
- Click here to read the June 13, 2012 notice letter from the Lawyers’ Committee, Demos, and Project Vote on behalf of the Alabama NAACP to the Alabama Secretary of State (the state’s chief election official), and the DHR and Alabama Medicaid Commissioners, detailing the compliance problems identified in the investigation.