Washington, DC - The Justice Department announced yesterday that it has reached an agreement with Connecticut and state officials to resolve claims that the state failed to provide voter registration opportunities required by Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
The department’s investigation, conducted by the Civil Rights Division’s Voting Section, found that the state of Connecticut failed to comply with the requirements of Section 5 of the NVRA. Applications and renewals for Connecticut driver’s licenses and identification cards did not serve as applications for voter registration with respect to elections for federal office, as required by the NVRA. In addition, the procedures by which citizens notify motor vehicle authorities that their address changed did not consistently serve as notification of a change of address for voter registration purposes, as the NVRA requires.
Under the terms of the settlement, Connecticut will fully integrate a voter registration opportunity into all applications for driver’s licenses and other identification documents, including renewal applications. Connecticut will also ensure that change of address information submitted for driver’s license purposes will be used to update voters’ address information unless the voter declines to update her voter registration. During the course of negotiations, Connecticut has taken significant steps to achieve this compliance by integrating a voter registration application into its electronic driver licensing system. In order to provide a voter registration opportunity for Connecticut residents who did not have one when last applying for or renewing a driver’s license or other identification document, Connecticut will contact eligible voters who are not currently registered to vote at the address associated with the driver’s license or other identification document.
“A robust, inclusive democracy requires ensuring that eligible voters can easily and conveniently register to vote,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “State officials worked cooperatively with the Justice Department to quickly provide eligible Connecticut voters an integrated one-stop opportunity to register through the DMV, as the law requires.”
“The motor voter provision of the NVRA critically supports and enhances our citizens’ access to the democratic process,” said U.S. Attorney Deirdre M. Daly of the District of Connecticut. “Compliance with those requirements plays an important role in ensuring that all Connecticut citizens can more easily exercise their right to vote. I commend our many state officials from the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Office of the Secretary of the State and the Attorney General’s Office for their hard work in reaching this agreement and for their commitment to the expansion of voting rights in Connecticut. We also thank the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice for their partnership and invaluable assistance.”
Section 5 of the NVRA, also known as the “motor voter” provision, requires states to provide voter registration opportunities for federal elections when people apply for or renew driver’s licenses or other identification documents through state motor vehicle offices. The motor voter provision also requires that changes of address for driver’s license or identification document purposes update voter registration information unless the applicant opts out of the update.