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Paper Trail Indicates DHHS Aware of Voting Issue Despite Response


When a group of voting rights advocates notified the state Department of Health and Human Services recently that North Carolina may not be living up to federal requirements that social services agencies help their clients register to vote, a spokeswoman indicated the department was surprised.


Stuart Naifeh, counsel for Demos, said that, even if the state department wasn't already monitoring itself for compliance with the NVRA, his group's public records request should have put officials in North Carolina on notice that advocacy groups were looking at the issue.

DHHS' response, he said, "only makes sense if they had their heads in the sand."

Naifeh quickly pointed out that he did not have any records that showed whether DHHS officials knew or did not know about the issue. Asked about the possibility that the department was truly surprised, he said, "To me, it's a problem they weren't monitoring themselves for compliance with federal law."