Voter rights organizations filed suit in federal court on Tuesday claiming the state of Texas in violation of the National Voter Registration Act because it fails to automatically update voter registration information when a person makes changes to their driver’s license.
According to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), each time a person makes a change to his or her driver’s license, the state must simultaneously update the person’s voter registration. According to the Western District of Texas’s Chief Judge Garcia in a decision in 2018, “the NVRA’s requirement that [the Department of Public Safety], a voter registration agency, provide simultaneous application for both driver’s license and voter registration purposes is plain and unambiguous and the facts in the record confirm that Texans are being deprived of this statutory right.” Yet, the complaint states, Texas has refused to comply with the law.
The complaint states that more than 1.5 million Texans are harmed each year by the state’s refusal to provide automatic changes to the voter registration forms when changes are made to a person’s driver’s license. The complaint says that this violation is particularly damaging in Texas where “the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that between 2013 and 2017, more than 2.5 million Texas moved within the same county, and more than 1 million moved from one Texas county to another county.” Under Texas’s current system, each time a person moves, they are required to change the address on their driver’s license, and then, rather than the voter registration forms being simultaneously updated as per the law, the individual is instructed to travel to another webpage to complete another form.
Because the claim arises out of Constitution and the NVRA, the plaintiffs filed the complaint in the US District Court for the Western District of Texas because the court has subject matter jurisdiction. This suit is filed just days after the Texas Democratic Party sued the Texas Secretary of State for voter suppression and Arizona voter rights advocates and Arizona’s Secretary of State settled in a similar case.