Settlement Agreement in GA State Conference of the NAACP v. KEMP

Settlement Agreement in GA State Conference of the NAACP v. KEMP

April 19, 2012
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The Georgia Secretary of State (SOS) and the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) entered into a settlement agreement on April 17, 2012, concluding a lawsuit brought by the Georgia State Conference Of The NAACP, Coalition for the People’s Agenda, and low-income resident Craig Murphy to ensure that state public assistance offices (DFCS offices) provide low-income citizens with voter registration services, as required by Section 7 of the NVRA.

 

Top Facts - The settlement agreement, in effect until September 30, 2015, contains the following terms:

Each DFCS office shall prominently post a sign generally advising the public of the voter registrations services available through the office. 

DHS shall provide a voter registration application in person to anyone who visits a DFCS office who requests an application to register to vote. 

DHS must distribute a voter registration application and a Voter Registration Declaration Statement (which contains a written offer of voter registration) with each application for public assistance and with each renewal, recertification or change of address related to such assistance, regardless of whether the benefits transaction takes place in-person, by Internet, by mail, by telephone or by some other remote mechanism.

DFCS employees shall verbally offer and provide voter registration services and assistance during each an in-person and telephone interview for application, recertification, and change of address.  During phone interviews, DFCS employees will remind clients that voter registration materials were included with benefits materials.

The computer system program used by DHS staff in processing public assistance transactions must be upgraded to require that staff input client answers to the offer of voter registration.  If DHS upgrades its computer technology in the future, the computer-guided interview if possible will also require DFCS employees to record the method by which a voter registration application was provided to a client (e.g., in person, by mail, electronically).

A client using Georgia COMPASS, the state’s online benefits system, must be able to register to vote by accessing a .pdf of the Georgia Voter Registration Application or by requesting that a voter registration application be sent through the mail.  DHS shall provide a toll-free telephone number with real time assistance to help Georgia COMPASS users complete voter registration applications.

Voter registration materials mailed to clients must be accompanied by a written notice, which shall advise that a voter registration application is enclosed, that assistance is available for completing the voter registration application (with contact information for where that help may be obtained), and that voter registration applications may be returned in person to a DFCS office or by mail to the Secretary of State. 

DFCS shall provide the same degree of assistance with voter registration forms as is provided for the agency’s own forms, unless declined by the client. At a minimum, during in-office covered transactions, DFCS employees shall examine voter registration applications for completeness and signature.

If a DFCS employee determines that a client did not receive a voter registration application as required under Section 7 of the NVRA, a remedial mailing must be sent to the client and enclose a voter registration application and explanatory notice.

The SOS and DHS each must designate staff responsible for ensuring NVRA compliance. Annual performance reviews of such staff shall include compliance with NVRA requirements.  In addition, DHS progressive discipline procedures shall apply to all DHS staff who do not comply with the requirements of the NVRA and the terms of the Agreement.

Training materials must be created, distributed, and made accessible.  DHS staff must receive regular training on NVRA compliance and ongoing guidance about the NVRA must be available to them. 

DHS and the SOS must review regularly-collected data to spot potential NVRA compliance problems.  DHS must also engage in regular on-site observational review of local office performance of voter registration responsibilities.

DHS and the SOS must investigate potential compliance problems identified at local public assistance offices.  DHS must take appropriate corrective action when it is determined that a particular office or individual employees at a particular office is/are not complying with Section 7 of the NVRA. 

DHS and the SOS must seek administrative preclearance under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act from the United States Department of Justice of this Agreement.

Within 30 days of the execution of the Settlement Agreement, DHS must provide notice of the terms of the Agreement as well as written guidance detailing the computer system upgrades to all relevant staff.

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