NVRA Compliance at Public Assistance Agencies
and Other NVRA Voter Registration Agencies
The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) requires public assistance agencies, agencies serving people with disabilities, armed forces recruitment offices, and other agencies designated by the state as voter registration agencies to:
a voter registration card to each person who applies for service or assistance with the agency, or who requests recertification, renewal or a change of address with the agency;
people in completing the voter registration card by giving the same kind of assistance already provided for completing the agency's own forms;
completed voter registration cards, and send completed voter registration cards to elections officials within 10 days. Cards received within five days of a deadline to register to vote must be forwarded to elections officials within five days.
NVRA Voter Registration Agencies
Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Offices
Public Assistance Agencies
- County welfare department offices, which accept applications and administer benefits for the CalFresh Program, formerly known as Food Stamps and federally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) program, which replaced the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program.
- County welfare department offices, which accept applications and administer benefits for the Medi-Cal program.
- County welfare department offices and community based non-profit organizations under contract with the Department of Public Health, formerly the Department of Health Services, which accept applications and administer benefits for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) nutrition program.
- County welfare departments which accept applications and administer benefits for In-Home Supportive Services Program.
- California Health Benefit Exchange
State-Funded Agencies Primarily Serving Persons with Disabilities
- Offices of the State Department of Rehabilitation, which provide vocational rehabilitation services.
- Independent Living Centers
- Department of Developmental Services Regional Centers
- Offices of contractors with the Department of Social Services, Office of Deaf Access, which provide services to the deaf.
- State and County Mental Health Providers
Armed Forces Recruitment Offices
Other Agencies Designated by the Governor
- Franchise Tax Board district offices, which provide public access for income tax and Homeowner and Renter Assistance forms, instructions and assistance.
- State Board of Equalization district offices, which provide services to the public.
SB 35 Requirements
SB 35 (Padilla), Chapter 505, Statutes of 2012, effective January 1, 2013, codifies portions of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) into state law and places new requirements on county elections officials, NVRA agencies, and the Secretary of State.
SB 35 requires voter registration agencies to do the following:
- Notify the county elections official of each NVRA office or site within a county;
- Designate an NVRA/SB 35 coordinator;
- Train employees annually;
- Order voter registration cards exclusively from the county elections office;
- Offer minority language forms as required by federal Voting Rights Act; and
- Offer an online voter preference form and link to California Online Voter Registration (http://RegisterToVote.ca.gov/) if the agency offers enrollment, renewal, or change of address transactions online.
SB 35 requires NVRA agencies to train employees annually and requires county elections officials to assist with training, if requested by an NVRA agency. The Secretary of State's NVRA and SB 35 training materials are available on the Secretary of State's NVRA website.
California Department of Social Services ACIN
The California Department of Social Services has issued a new All County Information Notice (ACIN) to county welfare directors and state and local NVRA agencies regarding SB 35 and NVRA compliance.
To review California Department of Social Services ACIN 1-04-13 please visit: www.dss.cahwnet.gov/lettersnotices/EntRes/getinfo/acin/2013/I-04_13.pdf.
Restrictions on Influencing Applicants
The NVRA places restrictions on how agency staff may interact with applicants when providing the opportunity to register to vote. Voter registration agency staff must not:
- Seek to influence an applicant's political preference or party registration;
- Display any political preference or party allegiance;
- Make any statement to an applicant or take any action the purpose or effect of which is to discourage the applicant from registering to vote; or,
- Make any statement to an applicant or take any action the purpose or effect of which is to lead the applicant to believe that a decision to register or not to register has any bearing on the availability of services or benefits.
Under the NVRA, if a voter completes a voter registration card at an NVRA voter registration agency on or just before a voter registration deadline, but elections officials do not receive the form until after the deadline, the voter is deemed to have timely registered and is eligible to vote in the election.
Voter Preference Records
All agencies designated as voter registration agencies under the NVRA must keep records of voter preferences. Under the NVRA, the agency hands out a voter registration card along with an NVRA Voter Preference Form, which asks "Would you like to register to vote today?" and provides checkboxes for the applicant to agree or decline to register to vote. Agencies keep Voter Preference Forms on file for two years.
Under the NVRA, when a person chooses to register or declines to register at one of the voter registration agencies, that information is private and must be kept confidential. Therefore, Voter Preference Forms are not public records, and the identity of the agency where a voter registers is also confidential. However, aggregate numbers of voter registrations and declinations from each voter registration agency are reportable and a matter of public record.
While the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) sends monthly statistics to the Secretary of State, other NVRA voter registration agencies have not historically provided reports to county elections offices or to the Secretary of State. However, county elections officials track voter registrations at NVRA voter registration agencies by tracking the serial numbers on the voter registration cards supplied to each public assistance agency. As completed voter registration cards come back to the county, elections officials check the serial number to determine whether the card came from an NVRA voter registration agency.