The Southern Coalition for Social Justice today took action to ensure that the State of North Carolina meets federal law requirements in providing voter registration opportunities to its citizens who receive public assistance.
Since 1993, federal law requires public assistance agencies administering programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to provide individuals who apply, renews, recertify, or change their address, or otherwise interact with the agency the opportunity and means to register to vote. Specifically, public assistance agencies must distribute voter registration forms, help applicants in filling out the voter registration forms, and accept and accept the completed forms and forward them to appropriate election officials. The purpose of the law is to reduce the burden on low-income individuals or individuals experiencing acute financial distress by eliminating the demand for multiple government interactions to register to vote.
At this time, unfortunately, North Carolina’s public assistance agencies are not fulfilling this obligation, and North Carolina is the worse for their failure. North Carolina must make prompt changes to ensure that the law is properly implemented so that all of its citizens, including the more than one million individuals who receive public assistance, are able to register to vote and participate in elections.
The Southern Coalition for Social Justice is proud to be working with Demos, Project Vote, and the Lawyer’s Committee and to be representing Democracy NC, Action NC, and the NC A. Philip Randolph Institute in this matter. We hope to work cooperatively with the NCBOE and DHHS to develop a plan for bringing North Carolina into compliance with the law, without litigation, as has successfully been done with North Carolina previously as well as with other states. But we will do whatever it takes to make sure that every North Carolinian has the opportunity to participate in the political process.
Read the letter SCSJ and partner organizations sent to North Carolina Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach today.