Breaking: “Project Vote to Close Its Doors May 31”

Electionline with the bad news:

Project Vote, a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit that has spent recent years focusing its attention on improving voter registration, especially the enforcement of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) will officially close its doors on May 31.

Michael Slater, executive director since 2003, cited the lack of funding as the reason for the closure.

“[F]unding for voter registration programs declined precipitously after 2008, and the number of funders supporting voting rights advocacy and litigation slowly decreased as well,” Slater said. “At the same time, more organizations created voting rights programs, which resulted in more competition.”

Slater also pointed to the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision to strike down the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act which resulted in the donor community focusing available voting rights resources on VRA enforcement, which had the effect of reducing funds for other work, such as Project Vote’s work enforcing the NVRA….

roject Vote’s shuttering comes at a time when voting rights are making headlines daily and Slater is concerned about what impact the closure may have.

“From our perspective, voting rights work has never been more important. We hae been warning for months that [President Donald J.] Trump’s absurd rhetoric about ‘voter fraud’ signaled a top-down assault on the right to vote in America,” Slater said. “The concern, of course, is that the remaining voting rights organizations, already spread thing, will be unable to keep up with this assault.

The news of Project Vote’s closure is slowly starting to spread throughout the elections community and it is being met with sadness.

“We’re terribly saddened by the closing of Project Vote. It has been a great organization that has contributed significantly to the protection of the fundamental right to vote,” said Ezra Rosenberg, co-director of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “Its role in ensuring the registration of all eligible voters was and remains of utmost importance.  It is particularly unfortunate for this to happen at a time when voting rights are under tremendous attack.”

Project Vote was involved in many legal cases nationwide with some recent cases including reaching a settlement agreement with Maricopa County, Arizona, settling a suit with Georgia on access to public records Maricopa County, Arizona and just this week, meeting a deadline for filing a motion to dismiss in a list maintenance case, ACRU v Snipes, in Florida.

“This is very sad news for voters,” said Rick Hasen, chancellor’s professor of law and political science at UC Irvine and author of the ElectionLaw Blog. “Project Vote has been a leader in making sure that states comply with the provisions of the motor-voter law making it easier for people to register and vote when they come into contact with government agencies. I hope that others can step in and help with this very important work.”

Thomas Hicks, commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission pointed to the groups’ work in Nevada in 2016 that resulted in a Memorandum of Understanding to bring the state into compliance with NVRA.

“I am sad they are going away,” Hicks said. “They do a great deal in terms of voter registration and I don’t know if there are folks out there to fill that void. In my own opinion, it’s horrible that an organization that does as much as they do will no longer exist.”

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