Letter from Voting Rights Community Is Latest Demand for Compliance with National Voter Registration Act
St. Louis, Mo. – Today, nearly 50 organizations affiliated with the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition sent a letter to state officials demanding that they take affirmative steps to comply with voter registration laws to ensure that Missourians can properly exercise their fundamental right to vote in this year’s elections. Missouri, the letter states, is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), a law designed to aid voter registration.
“As the elections near, it is disconcerting that the state of Missouri is falling so grossly short of the bare minimum required by major voting rights laws,” said Rod Chapel, President of the NAACP Missouri State Conference, which is part of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition and a signatory on the letter. “Elections are just over two months away, and Missourians are as interested as ever in making themselves heard at the polls. Groups like ours are doing everything within our power to empower, register, and educate voters about the election process. But we cannot compete with the state’s failure to do its part on voter registration. We need Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft and Department of Revenue Director Joel Walters to do their part and not obstruct Missourians’ right to vote.”
The letter is the latest in a string of efforts to bring the State of Missouri into compliance with the NVRA. A lawsuit filed by Advancement Project, the ACLU, and Demos in April 2018 on behalf of the League of Women Voters of Missouri and the St. Louis and Greater Kansas City Chapters of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, alleges that the Missouri Secretary of State and the state’s motor vehicle agency, the Missouri Department of Revenue (DOR) are failing their obligations under the NVRA. These organizations are now asking a federal court to order immediate relief to Missouri voters who were not provided voter registration services when they updated their address with DOR in advance of Missouri’s 2018 elections. The Coalition’s letter explains the need for such relief is urgent. In every election many voters are turned away at the polls because their registration information is out-of-date and does not reflect their current address.
“The state’s failures to take steps to ensure full access to voter registration risks locking voters out of the ballot box,” said Denise Lieberman, Co-Director of the Power and Democracy Program at Advancement Project’s national office and Coordinator of the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition. “It’s alarming that this comes on top of years of coordinated efforts in Missouri and around the country to reduce the electorate, especially communities of color, young people, veterans, and the elderly, in what can only be described as a culture of carelessness and voter suppression by the state of Missouri.”