Driving the Vote: Are States Complying with the Motor Voter Requirements of the National Voter Registration Act?

Source: Stuart Naifeh, Dēmos, February 2015

From the summary:
For our democracy to thrive, the freedom to vote must be fiercely protected for all citizens, regardless of class or privilege. Yet, much work needs to be done to ensure our election system works for all Americans, particularly regarding the accessibility and ease of navigation of the voter registration process. Historically, and still to this date, the number of eligible Americans who are registered to vote remains stubbornly low, ranging from 60 percent to 75 percent in presidential election years, which in turn leads to depressed voter turnout rates that skew our electorate and undermine representative democracy.

In 1993, Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (“NVRA”) with the goal of increasing voter participation in elections by requiring states to make voter registration more accessible. One of the key provisions of the NVRA, known as “Motor Voter,” requires state motor vehicles departments (“DMVs”) to incorporate voter registration into the driver’s license application, renewal and change-of-address processes. Despite the popularity of this mode of voter registration, the “Motor Voter” provision is not performing up to its potential, and, in many states, implementation of the statute’s requirements is severely wanting. …