The Justice Department announced today that it has secured an agreement with the State of Alaska and state officials to resolve claims that driver license transactions did not consistently provide certain voter registration opportunities required by Section 5 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).
Section 5 of the NVRA, also known as the “motor voter” provision, requires covered 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 NVRA also requires that changes of address submitted for driver’s license or identification document purposes update voter registration information unless the applicant opts out of the update.
The Justice Department’s investigation found that applications and renewals for Alaska’s driver’s licenses and identification documents did not consistently serve as voter registration applications for federal office as required by the NVRA. Likewise, the procedures by which citizens notify the state’s motor vehicle office that their address had changed did not serve as a notification of change of address for voter registration purposes.
Under the terms of the settlement, Alaska will fully integrate a voter registration opportunity into all applications for driver’s licenses and other identification documents. Alaska will also ensure that all change of address information submitted for driver’s licenses or state-issued identification purposes will be used to update voters’ address information unless a voter declines to update their voter registration. Alaska has also agreed to appoint a Division of Motor Vehicles NVRA coordinator and NVRA site coordinators for each Division of Motor Vehicles office.
“The ability to register to vote and to update voter registration information easily and conveniently is essential in a robust, inclusive democracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “This agreement is part of our commitment to ensuring that eligible voters across Alaska have access to voter registration opportunities required by federal law. We will continue working to ensure that states and counties across the country are complying with the mandates of the National Voter Registration Act and other federal voting rights laws. We thank state officials for agreeing to undertake actions we deem necessary to achieve compliance with the mandates of the NVRA.”
“I commend our many state officials for their hard work and dedication in reaching this agreement,” said U.S. Attorney S. Lane Tucker for the District of Alaska. “It is vital for every citizen in our democracy to have a full and fair opportunity to participate in the electoral process. This includes the ability of every citizen to register to vote and to update their registration information with the ease of access that the law requires.”
More information about the NVRA and other federal voting laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/crt/about/vot/. Complaints under the federal voting rights laws may be reported to the Civil Rights Division at https://civilrights.justice.gov/.