The state of Georgia has settled a major lawsuit over its failure to offer poor people who sign up for public assistance a chance to register to vote.
From the press release just issued by the plaintiffs:
A coalition of national voting rights groups have secured a landmark settlement with the State of Georgia to ensure that voter registration is offered to all public assistance applicants. The state has settled a lawsuit, brought by the coalition on behalf of the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP and the Coalition for the Peoples’ Agenda, alleging widespread violations of Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Georgia’s Secretary of State and its Department of Human Services (DHS) have agreed to comply with Section 7 of the NVRA, which requires that public assistance agency clients be provided with the opportunity to register to vote every time they apply for or renew benefits, or when they submit a change of address. This includes instances where clients interact with the agency both in person and by remote means (by telephone, internet or mail, for example). The lawsuit alleged that Georgia had been largely ignoring this mandate for many years.
“This settlement is a major step in modernizing our registration system for public assistance applicants, who increasingly interact with agencies through internet-based and telephone transactions,” says Neil Steiner, a partner with the law firm of Dechert LLP. “Voting is a fundamental right in the United States and we are pleased to assist in ensuring that it is available to all those who are eligible.”
A few numbers:
….[T]here has been a dramatic decline in the number of persons registering to vote at Georgia public assistance offices since the NVRA first took effect in the mid-1990s. During the 1995-1996 reporting period, DHS received over 100,000 registration applications, but in 2010 the number of registrations had dropped to a mere 4,430. By comparison, in 2009, Georgia, on average, received nearly 70,000 applications each month for just one of the public assistance programs (Food Stamps) covered by the NVRA’s voter registration requirements.
- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider