AUSTIN, TX — Today, the League of Women Voters of Texas and Campaign Legal Center sent a letter to Texas Secretary of State John Scott in response to his office’s practice of severely limiting voter registration forms provided to voter registration organizations in the state — in violation of the National Voter Registration Act. The letter notifies Scott of the League’s intent to sue if the state does not provide the needed registration forms to the League and other voter registration organizations. Texas does not provide an online registration option for new voters.
“It is crucial that the Secretary of State’s office act swiftly to provide the necessary voter registration forms for the people of Texas. The deadline to register to vote for the upcoming primary election is quickly approaching, and Texas is one of 11 states without online voter registration,” said Grace Chimene, president of the League of Women Voters of Texas. “Voter registration services from organizations like the League of Women Voters are a vital component of a fair and accessible democracy. We call on the Secretary Scott’s office to do whatever it takes to meet the demand in voter registration for Texans.”
Chapters of the League of Women Voters of Texas customarily receive registration forms from the Texas Secretary of State’s office based on their needs, which are extensive, as the organization operates numerous large and small voter registration events per year. The Houston chapter alone has registered approximately 30,000 new citizens at naturalization ceremonies per year in the past.
“The scarcity of registration forms presents an egregious voter access issue. Secretary Scott must comply with the federal law. The voters in Texas deserve fair access to the polls,” said Celina Stewart, chief counsel and senior director of advocacy and litigation for the League of Women Voters of the United States. “Without the necessary voter registration forms, a large portion of the Texas population will be illegally blocked from making their voices heard in the upcoming state primary in March.”
According to Section 6 of the National Voter Registration Act, the Texas Secretary of State is required to “make the [voter registration] forms . . . available for distribution through governmental and private entities, with particular emphasis on making them available for organized voter registration programs.”
“Texas already makes it too difficult to get on the voter rolls and too easy for officials to take you off,” said Danielle Lang, senior director of voting rights at Campaign Legal Center. “The League provides a vital service to Texas citizens, and particularly the new citizen community, in helping them register to vote. The least the Secretary of State can do is provide the state forms they need to do so.”
Scott’s office has cited supply chain issues that increased the price of paper as the main reason for the limitation of forms. However, the state of Texas currently has a budget surplus of $7.85 billion — plenty to cover the higher cost of paper.
Texas voters can find information for how to register and cast a ballot at VOTE411.org.
Read the letter below or here.
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EDITORIAL NOTE: This blog post was originally posted on the Huffington Post.