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Health Care Exchanges

As part of our Public Agency Voter Registration program, Project Vote is working with Demos and other allies to ensure that the millions of Americans who will apply for health care benefits under the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) are also provided the opportunity to register to vote, as required by federal law.

Under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), voter registration opportunities must be provided to persons applying for public assistance programs. This requirement was included specifically to provide voter registration services to individuals who were less likely to register through other means.

Because the ACA offers consumers public assistance such as Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and tax subsidies through a single streamlined application, the ACA enrollment process must comply with requirements of the NVRA like any other public assistance program covered by the NVRA.  In each state, this application system is being operated by an entity called Health Benefit Exchange (“Exchange”). In some cases, states are operating their own Exchanges, while others are covered by an Exchange operated by the federal government, or in a partnership between the federal government and the state.

The Obama Administration has acknowledged that the NVRA applies to Exchanges, but to date the application process and training requirements for Exchange personnel do not meet NVRA requirements for voter registration services. The NVRA mandates that covered agencies must:

  • ask the applicant, in writing, whether he or she would like to register to vote or update his or her voter registration address;
  • distribute a voter registration application form, unless an individual declines in writing;
  • inform the applicant, in writing, that no one may interfere with his or her right to register to vote or not, right to privacy while registering, and right to choose a political party; and
  • help the applicant complete the voter registration application form, to the same degree as assistance is provided in completing benefits application forms.

Now, work is urgently needed to ensure that voter registration compliant with the NVRA is appropriately integrated into the relevant training procedures and the implementation of these Exchanges. Project Vote, along with its partners, is leading the national effort to help guarantee that both the federal and State-based Exchanges comply with the NVRA, and to make sure that millions of Americans are not denied an opportunity to register to vote.

For more information about the Health Care Exchange initiative, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it




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