“New York in Violation of ‘Motor Voter’ Law and the Voting Rights Act”

Release:

Attorneys for Hispanic Federation, Voto Latino, Chhaya CDC, MinKwon Center for Community Action, and New York resident William Towbin sent a pre-litigation notice letter today, alleging that the state is failing to meet its obligations under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). The letter was sent to Todd D. Valentine and Robert A. Brehm, Co-Executive Directors of the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE), as well as Theresa L. Egan, Executive Deputy Commissioner of the New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

Section 5 of the NVRA, commonly known as the “Motor Voter” law, requires the DMV to provide voter registration services whenever an individual applies for, renews, or changes their address on a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. The DMV is then required to transmit voter registration information to the appropriate election official within ten, or in some cases five, days. Further, under the language assistance protections of the VRA, the state must ensure that voters in numerous New York counties are provided voter registration services in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali, in addition to English.

Today’s letter—sent by attorneys from Demos, Project Vote, Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF), and LatinoJustice PRLDEF— cites clear evidence that the DMV is failing to ensure that a driver’s license or identification card application, renewal, or change of address transaction serves as a voter registration application or change of address. The letter provides New York with official notice that its DMV offices are failing to comply with the NVRA, starting a 90-day timeline for the state to come into compliance or face litigation.

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