SENATORS SCHUMER & LEAHY URGE ELECTION ASSISTANCE COMMISSION TO TAKE IMMEDIATE ACTION TO ENSURE THAT ALL STATES ARE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE NATIONAL VOTER REGISTRATION ACT SO NO ELIGIBLE VOTERS ARE DENIED THEIR RIGHT TO VOTE ON NOVEMBER 8
In New Letter, Senators Schumer and Leahy Noted that Nine States – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Washington – Should Revise Their Voter Registration Deadlines to Comply With the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)
NVRA Requires States To Accept Registration Forms If They Were Postmarked 30 Days Before Election Day, Yet These Nine States Posted Deadlines Would Prematurely Cut off Voter Access
Schumer, Leahy to Election Assistance Commission: Act Now to Ensure Americans Are Not Denied Right to Vote on Election Day
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Patrick Leahy today released a new letter to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) urging them to take immediate action to ensure a number of states revise their voter registration deadlines to comply with the National Voter Registration Act so that no eligible American is denied the right to participate in the upcoming election. Specifically, Senators Schumer and Leahy note that while the NVRA prohibits states from a having voter registration deadline more than 30 days before Election Day, nine states – Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Rhode island, South Carolina and Washington – have set voter registration deadlines that would deny registration to those who mailed in their form on the 30th day. Without swift action by the states in violation of the NVRA, the Senators note that thousands of Americans could be disenfranchised this November.
The full text of the Senators’ letter can be found below:
Commissioner Thomas Hicks, Chairman
Commissioner Matthew Masterson, Vice-Chair
Commissioner Christy A. McCormick
U.S. Election Assistance Commission
1335 East West Highway, Suite 4300
Silver Spring, MD 20910
We are seeking your assistance to help protect the right to vote for hundreds of thousands of Americans that may be prevented from voting this November. It has come to our attention that a number of states have posted registration deadlines that fail to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).
As you know, this year the federal general election will be held on Tuesday, November 8, 2016. The NVRA provides that a State shall ensure that a voter is registered “if the valid voter registration form of the applicant is postmarked not later than the lesser of 30 days, or the period provided by State law, before the date of the election.”(52 USC §20507(a)(1)(B)). Thirty (30) days before Election Day is Sunday, October 9th, which is a day without postal service. Additionally, this year Columbus Day is observed on Monday, October 10th and so postal service is also unavailable on that day. As a result, the first available day to have a voter registration application postmarked that is “not later” than 30 days before the election is Tuesday, October 11, 2016.
Unfortunately, a number of states have posted their voter registration (or mail voter registration) deadline before October 11th. Those states include: Alaska (10/9); Arizona (10/10); Arkansas (10/10); Hawaii (10/10); Mississippi (10/8); Rhode Island (10/9); South Carolina (10/8); Utah (10/10); and Washington (10/10).
We know that every day of voter registration in the month before the election is an opportunity for hundreds of thousands of Americans across the country to get registered to vote or update their voter registration information. Each of those registrations or updates helps prevent problems or delays at the polls on Election Day.
We ask that you work with the chief election official in each of these states to correct this error and ensure compliance with the National Voter Registration Act. Doing so quickly will help prevent thousands of Americans from being disenfranchised this November. The right to vote is too precious to have something so simple to fix potentially prevent so many Americans from participating in the upcoming Election.
Thank you in advance for you attention to this matter and please contact us if there is anything we can do to be of assistance in resolving this issue.
Charles E. Schumer
United States Senator
Patrick J. Leahy
United States Senator