Notice to Michigan Secretary of State on Voting Rights Violations

Notice to Michigan Secretary of State on Voting Rights Violations

August 22, 2011
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We write on behalf of the Michigan State Conference  of the NAACP, persons eligible to register to vote that it represents, and others similarly situated to notify you that the State of Michigan is not in compliance with Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (“NVRA”), 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-5,  which requires States, including Michigan, to provide the opportunity to register to vote with every application for public assistance and every public assistance recertification, renewal, and change of address.  We urge you, as the State’s chief election official, to take immediate steps, in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Human Services (“DHS”), to bring the State into compliance with Section 7. 

The NVRA requires Michigan to “designate as voter registration agencies . . . all offices in the State that provide public assistance.”  See 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-5(a)(2)(A).  Each public assistance office must, at a minimum, (i) distribute voter registration application forms; (ii) assist applicants in completing the voter registration forms; and (iii) accept completed voter registration application forms and forward them to the appropriate election official.  See 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-5(a)(4)(A). Moreover, each office must (i) distribute a voter registration application form with each application for public assistance and with each recertification, renewal or change of address form; (ii) inquire of the applicant, in writing, whether he or she would like to register to vote or change his or her voter registration address; (iii) inform the applicant, in writing, that the decision to register or decline to register to vote will not affect the amount of public assistance provided by the agency; and (iv) provide assistance in completing the voter registration forms to the same degree the agency provides assistance in completing its own forms.  See 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-5(a)(6).