Notice Letter in South Carolina NVRA Case

Notice Letter in South Carolina NVRA Case

February 7, 2019
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Dear Directors Andino, Meacham, Baker, and Wilson:

On October 11, 2013, we sent formal notice on behalf of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina ("the League"), the South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP ("NAACP"), their members, and others similarly situated, regarding the faulure of South Carolina public assistance agencies — including, but not limited to, your agencies — to provide voter registration services to public assistance clients as required by Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 ("NVRA"), 52 U.S.C. § 20506 (fonnerly 42 U.S.C. § 1973gg-5). At that time, we advised you of our intent to file suit at the end of the 90-day statutory waiting period should your agencies fail to take steps to fully remedy the violations. Unfortunately, despite what appeared to be initial efforts by your agencies to incorporate voter registration into covered transactions, your agencies are failing to provide NVRA compliant voter registration services during most, if not all, covered transactions. 

As we advised you in our previous notice letter, Section 7 of the NVRA requires that public assistance agencies-including, but not limited to, the Department of Social Services ("DSS"), Department of Health and Human Services ("DHHS") 1, and Department of Health and Environmental Control ("DHEC")-provide voter registration opportunities whenever an individual engages in a "covered transaction" (an application, renewal, rece1iification, or change of address transaction). Section 7's requirements extend to all covered transactions, whether conducted in person, by telephone, by mail, or via your agencies' online potials. See, e.g., Action NC v. Strach, 216 F. Supp. 3d 597, 623 (M.D.N.C. 2016) (concluding, in denying defendant's motion to dismiss, that "Sections 5 and 7 of the NVRA apply equally to in person and remote covered transactions"); Ga. State Conj of the NAACP v. Kemp, 841 F. Supp. 2d 1320, 1329- 1332 (N.D. Ga. 2012); see also U.S. Department of Justice, The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA): ): Questions and Answers, Q24. 
 
Based upon information received from the SEC and DSS pursuant to public records requests; recent visits to county public assistance offices; communications with county elections officials and agency representatives; and a review of South Carolina agency voter registration data, we have reason to believe the state's public assistance agencies are violating the NVRA in the following ways. 
 
 
 

Footnotes
 

  1. As we notified you in our 2013 letter, South Carolina has failed to designate DHHS as a voter registration agency. See S.C. Code Ann. 7-5-310 (2012). Because DHHS administers Medicaid, it is a state agency providing public assistance that must offer the voter registration services mandated by Section 7. The failure to designate DHHS as a voter registration agency is in itself a violation of the NVRA. 52 U.S.C. § 20506(a)(2)(A). That failure does not, however, relieve DHHS of its NVRA-mandated voter registration obligations. 
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