National Voter Registration Act (NVRA)

The National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) has two major aspects related to voter registration: maintaining accurate voter rolls through list maintenance and ensuring every eligible citizen has the opportunity to register to vote through the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and designated NVRA Voter Registration Agencies (VRAs).

List maintenance requires county elections officials to maintain an accurate list of voters in their respective counties. County elections officials are required to, among other things: accept voter registrations from DMV and VRA offices, send confirmation notices to new voters and voters with status updates, send notices to voters who change their addresses, place voters on inactive status if they move out of state or having mailing returned undeliverable with no forwarding address, and remove voters from their rolls if the voters are no longer eligible to vote in California.

NVRA is often referred to as Motor Voter, because it requires DMV offices to offer customers an opportunity to register to vote when they apply for or renew their driver licenses or state ID cards, or change their addresses. Under the NVRA, many other state government offices, known as VRAs, and private entities under contract with those offices are also required to offer people the opportunity to register to vote. 

Here you will find information on the NVRA and the Secretary of State's efforts to assist state VRAs and county elections officials in ensuring compliance with the NVRA.

The NVRA has five main provisions for states:

  1. Voter Registration: Offer opportunities to register to vote at all NVRA Voter Registration Agencies. For more information, please visit our NVRA Voter Registration Agencies web page;
  2. Voter Registration List Maintenance: Adopt procedures to add eligible voters to the list of registered voters and remove ineligible voters from the list of registered voters, while ensuring no voters are removed for the failure to cast a ballot. Elections officials may use change of address information to update voter records, but may not remove a voter from the rolls based solely on this information. For more information, please visit our NVRA List Maintenance Requirements section;
  3. Fail Safe Voting: Let voters cast a provisional ballot if they have moved within the same county but did not re-register at their new address;
  4. NVRA Record Keeping and Reporting: Keep track of voter registration numbers overall and, in particular, how many voter registrations come in from VRAs and report that information to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) by March 31st in odd-numbered years. While the number of declinations (when a voter declines to register) is not required to be reported to the EAC, the NVRA requires that declination forms be kept on file at each VRA. For more information, please visit our Federal Reporting to the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) section; and
  5. National Voter Registration Form: Accept new voter registrations on the National Voter Registration Form.