On June 11, 2012, Project Vote and its partners filed a Complaint against Secretary of State Ross Miller and Director of the department of Health & Human Services, Michael Willden in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada. The Complaint alleges that the state has systematically failed to comply with the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA). Since its 1993 enactment, the NVRA has helped ensure that low-income residents receive an opportunity to register to vote by mandating that all public assistance agencies offer voter registration services.
Plaintiffs include the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), Las Vegas Branch of the NAACP (Las Vegas NAACP), and Reno-Sparks Branch of the NAACP (Reno-Sparks NAACP), all of whom conduct voter registration activities in the state. They are represented by Demos, Project Vote, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP, and the law firms Woodburn and Wedge and Dechert LLP.
Specifically, the Complaint alleges that, based on Nevada’s own submissions to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, the number of voter registration applications submitted at Nevada public assistance offices decreased by a staggering 95% in recent years, from 39,444 in 1999-2000 to just 1,677 in 2009-2010. This steep decline in voter registrations is particularly significant because it occurred during the same period that both the population of the state and the number of applicants for public assistance were increasing.
The factual allegations in the Complaint show that fault for this reduction lies with the state. The majority of clients seeking public assistance services are simply not being offered voter registration opportunities, and many public assistance agencies do not even have the voter registration forms available on request. Indeed, a recent survey of 51 individuals leaving public assistance offices showed that four of the five people who specifically requested in writing to register to vote were not given voter registration applications. As a result of the state’s failures, the Plaintiffs are forced to expend resources helping to register citizens who would otherwise be registered by the state.
The district court dismissed Plaintiffs' complaint on December 19, 2012, finding that the Plaintiffs did not have standing. Plaintiffs are appealing to the Ninth Circuit.
Notice Letter. May 10, 2012.
Complaint. June 11, 2012.
District Court Order. December 19, 2012.