Renewed Focus on Voting Reform
by Lateefah Williams*, 4/24/2009
Recent efforts have renewed focus on voting reform efforts. Voter registration reform, a major issue highlighted in the 2008 election, is receiving attention from key legislators. According to the National Journal, Sen. Charles Schumer ( D-NY), chair of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, will introduce a bill later this year that addresses concerns with the voter registration system.
Schumer wrote a letter in early April to Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Justice Department to sue states that are not complying with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), also called the Motor Voter Act, which requires public assistance agencies, and other agencies, to offer voter registration materials. According to Schumer’s website, at least 18 states are not complying with the requirement for public assistance agencies to provide voter registration materials.
Schumer’s letter highlighted that when Voter Registration: Assessing Current Problems, a new study, was presented at the Senate Rules Committee in March, the study noted that "one of the key concerns is that eligible individuals are not offered the option to register and vote at state motor vehicle agencies, public assistance agencies, and agencies that provide services to people with disabilities."
The 2008 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, "found that in addition to as many as 3 million voters turned away due to registration problems, roughly 2.2 million registered voters were excluded for lack of proper identification; 1.9 million could not find their polling place; and 2.6 million left because of long lines," according to the National Journal.