California officials have started sending voter registration forms to 4 million people who shopped on the state’s new online health insurance marketplace, as part of a legal settlement with voting rights groups that are urging states to make it easier for people to sign up to vote as they enroll in coverage.
The groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had threatened legal action against California, arguing that it did not comply with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The law requires that people in 44 states and the District of Columbia be given the chance to register to vote when they apply for public benefits, such as Medicaid and food stamps.
The groups argue that the new state and federal health insurance marketplaces set up under the 2010 health-care law offer public benefits and therefore must give people an opportunity to register to vote. [...]
“Ensuring that all eligible Americans are registered to vote is key to ensuring a robust democracy,” Lisa Danetz, legal director of Demos, a left-leaning think tank, said in a statement. “If other states follow, millions more Americans will have the opportunity to join the voting rolls.”