Washington, DC - The Department of Justice Thursday announced that it recently entered into a settlement with the Commonwealth of Kentucky, the Kentucky State Board of Elections, and the Kentucky Secretary of State, resolving the Department’s claims that Kentucky was not complying with the voter registration list maintenance procedures set forth in Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA). Under the terms of the settlement, Kentucky will develop and implement a general program of statewide voter list maintenance that makes a reasonable effort to remove the names of registrants who have become ineligible due to a change in residence in accordance with Section 8 of the NVRA and state law.
The NVRA includes requirements for maintaining voter registration lists in elections for federal office. One of these NVRA requirements is that states make a reasonable effort to remove registrants who have become ineligible due to having died or moved. At the same time, the NVRA has protections to ensure that eligible voters remain on the rolls, including specific procedures that states must follow before removing voters who have moved to a new jurisdiction.
The Justice Department’s investigation found that, since 2009, Kentucky has not sent statutorily-required notices to registrants under the change-of-address process contemplated by the NVRA and state law. The investigation also found that, since 2015, Kentucky has not removed registrants through this statutorily-prescribed process when the registrants have moved to a new jurisdiction without notifying election officials.
The settlement requires the Kentucky State Board of Elections to create and implement a comprehensive plan, setting forth specific list maintenance procedures to be followed in the future, in accordance with the requirements and voter protections set forth by the NVRA. Such procedures must include a plan to obtain and use change-of-address information at least once per year. The comprehensive plan must also include procedures for sending a canvass mailing this summer to identify through returned mail those registrants who may have moved, as well as public outreach practices to educate voters about the importance of updating their voter registration when they change residences. The agreement also requires reporting of various information and data relating to the State Board’s list maintenance activities. The parties will submit the settlement to a federal judge for court approval.
“The NVRA’s list maintenance procedures ensure accurate and current voter registration rolls,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore. “The Civil Rights Division commends Kentucky for working with the Division to ensure its voter registration list accurately reflects its eligible registrants, consistent with the protections and procedures of the NVRA.”
On June 28, 2017, the Justice Department sent letters to all 44 states covered by the NVRA requesting information regarding their efforts to comply with Section 8’s list maintenance requirements. The Department opened this investigation after receiving Kentucky’s response to that letter. This settlement is the Department’s first resolution of a Section 8 matter since it sent the letters.