A Leap Forward for NVRA Compliance Monitoring in Florida

Cross-posted to Project Vote's blog, Voting Matters

Florida is joining a number of states that are utilizing technology to improve compliance with the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

The NVRA is commonly referred to as the "Motor Voter" law because it requires states to offer voter registration with driver’s license application and renewal.  An equally important, but lesser known provision of the NVRA requires states to offer voter registration opportunities to individuals who apply for public benefits or renew, recertify, or change their address for the purpose of receiving benefits.  

Several states have failed to consistently comply with the requirements of the NVRA, and Project Vote has found poor monitoring and reporting to be common characteristics of non-compliant states. At the other end of the spectrum, however, some states are working to develop procedures that improve monitoring and reporting processes to help ensure compliance. One such effort is underway in the Florida Department of Health’s Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Program.  Project Vote recently met with Florida WIC to discuss components for an effective monitoring and reporting system, and  Florida WIC is now in the development stages of creating such a system.

WIC bureau chief, Debbie Eibeck, is currently working with programmers to modify their current system to capture offers of voter registration and monitor how offices are performing. By June 2010, the state plans on launching an electronic automated paperless NVRA monitoring system that will effortlessly and systematically track voter registration by local WIC offices. By implementing such changes in their current system, the Florida Department of Health expects to capitalize on efficiencies that automation can provide.  

"Automating and integrating the collection of voter registration information into the existing WIC data system and WIC business process will allow the Florida WIC Program to better assure - in an efficient and economical manner - statewide programmatic compliance with federal and state voter registration requirements," said Eibeck.

Florida WIC is taking the appropriate steps to ensure voter registration services are being offered as we enter the 21st century and upgrade many of the systems used for day-to-day services.  Eibeck said that she anticipates Florida WIC will move towards a paperless system that will incorporate signature pads, like those found in store checkout lines, within the next couple of years.  

Such technological advances make opportunities for seamless automatic paperless voter registration systems at motor vehicle agencies and public assistance agencies a true possibility.  South Dakota, Kansas, and Delaware have instituted a range of automated procedures at state motor vehicle agencies in order to comply with NVRA as well as to streamline their election administration, according to recent Project Vote report, Paperless Voter Registration: Innovations in Three States. Officials at each of these states describe paperless registration as valuable, identifying benefits that include lower costs and increased efficiency. 

Tags: election reform, Voting Rights, National Voter Registration Act, Project Vote, Florida (all tags)

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