Governor Robert Bentley on Friday announced that the state of Alabama has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning compliance with the Motor Voter provision of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
In the spring, the state initiated efforts to integrate voter registration into the electronic driver’s license system. The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) will modify its electronic driver’s license system, which is used for in-person license transactions at ALEA offices as well as at the license offices of Judges of Probate, License Commissioners, and Revenue Commissioners. ALEA will also modify its new online system that allows citizens to renew their licenses or get duplicate licenses. The Secretary of State will adjust Alabama’s statewide electronic voter registration system to be able to electronically receive the voter registration data from ALEA.
On September 8, 2015, the DOJ notified the state of Alabama that it had authorized a lawsuit for noncompliance with the Motor Voter provision. The MOU signed Friday commits the state to undertake a series of actions to resolve DOJ’s concerns, avoid a lawsuit and bring the state into compliance.
Governor Bentley praised ALEA Secretary Spencer Collier and Secretary of State John Merrill for their efforts in reaching this agreement to bring the state into compliance. He also thanked the DOJ for working with the state on an out-of-court solution.
“Voting rights are important to every citizen, and it is imperative that every Alabamian have the ability to vote,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “In signing the comprehensive and realistic agreement announced today, we have avoided spending time and money on litigation, allowing state resources to instead be directed to making it easier for Alabama citizens to register to vote. I commend Secretary Collier, Secretary Merrill and representatives from the Department of Justice who worked through this issue and created a sensible solution.”
“The Secretary of State’s Office is excited about the opportunity to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with all parties involved,” Secretary of State John Merrill said. “This agreement will lead towards full compliance of the National Voter Registration Act to help ensure each eligible Alabamian has an opportunity to register to vote as well as exercise that right to vote in the electoral process for the candidate of their choice. All parties have worked together in a cooperative manner to see that the state of Alabama complies with the NVRA, and our office will do all it can to allow citizens every access possible to voter registration.”
“Voting is a fundamental right and we want all eligible Alabamians to have the ability to vote,” Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Secretary Spencer Collier said. “Upon the full implementation of ALEA on Jan. 1, 2015, ALEA began the process of reviewing all former policies and procedures of legacy agencies consolidated into ALEA. As a result of this review, it was discovered that the former Department of Public Safety, had issues similar to other states as it relates to the NVRA. Immediately ALEA initiated discussions with the Secretary of State’s (SOS) Office and in April formulated a plan to better integrate the ability for citizens to register to vote when performing certain driver license functions. We appreciate Governor Bentley’s leadership and the cooperation of the DOJ and the Attorney General’s Office in implementing our plan with the SOS.”
The state is also implementing a paper-based solution to be in place in the short term, until the electronic solution is complete next summer. Additionally, the state has agreed to adopt a change of address form for driver’s license purposes, and has agreed to certain requirements concerning training, reporting, public education, and consulting with the DOJ.
A full copy of Friday’s MOU can be found here.