Congress Must Rethink Ineffective NVRA Polices

Oct 23, 2007

 

WASHINGTON — Today, the Subcommittee on Elections, led by Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren, D-Calif., and Subcommittee Ranking Member Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., received testimony from witnesses expressing concern over the ineffective and outdated federal voter registration and list maintenance policies of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA).


During the hearing, several witnesses cited the NVRA provision that provides for the removal of inactive voters from registration lists as chief among their concerns. South Dakota’s Secretary of State, Chris Nelson, explained how the mandates in NVRA force states to keep inactive voters on their registration lists indefinitely. “The Department of Justice has identified South Dakota as one of the ten states which have counties with more names on the voter registration list than are in the voting age population,” said Nelson.


Robert Driscoll, the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, expressed concern regarding noncompliance with the NVRA provision that requires individuals to attest to their citizenship. “The addition of this citizenship question to the voter registration form was prompted by Congress’s concern over the ability of noncitizens, both legal and illegal, to register to vote without detection,” Driscoll stated. “Permitting or ignoring unauthorized or illegal voting is just as egregious as permitting a jurisdiction to deny a legal voter the right to vote.”


In advance of Tuesday’s hearing, Subcommittee Ranking Member McCarthy had requested that additional witnesses be permitted to share their experiences with NVRA’s provisions in order to fully inform the Committee on the legislation’s impact. However, that request was once again denied by Subcommittee Chairwoman Lofgren, who opted instead to insist that Majority witnesses outnumber Minority witnesses by a 3-to-1 margin. In an effort to ensure that a diverse range of perspectives are represented, Ranking Member McCarthy was once again forced to invoke the right to a separate hearing.


McCarthy expressed his disappointment with Lofgren’s decision to repeatedly deny the Subcommittee the opportunity to hear from a broader range of experts. “Partisanship and gridlock are qualities we should leave at the door when examining issues under this subcommittee’s jurisdiction,” McCarthy noted. “I implore the Chair to turn away from the partisan direction this subcommittee is heading.”


For more information, contact the Republican Committee press office at (202) 225-8281.