Scott v. Schedler

Date Filed: 01/12/2011

Scott v. Schedler is a lawsuit alleging that the State of Louisiana has failed to comply with its obligations under the National Voter Registration Act (also known as the “NVRA” and the “Motor Voter Act”).  The NVRA was enacted in 1993 to ensure that all Americans, regardless of socio-economic status, have access to the ballot, and was designed to make it easier for all Americans to register to vote and to keep their registration status current.

Section 7 of the NVRA requires states to offer voter registration services at all offices that provide public assistance or services to persons with disabilities.  Every individual who applies for any of these services, seeks renewal of these services, or seeks to change his or her address information must be provided with a voter registration form and assistance in completing the form and forwarding it to the appropriate state or local election official.

The State of Louisiana, however, has not adequately fulfilled its federal obligations to provide voter registration services to individuals receiving public assistance, leaving countless Louisiana citizens effectively disenfranchised.  Despite consistently high numbers of participants in Louisiana’s food stamps and Medicaid programs, voter registration applications originating from public assistance agencies have been surprisingly low. In 2007-2008, voter registration applications originating in these agencies had dropped 88 percent from 1995-1996, despite increased participation in public assistance programs.

LDF has filed a complaint to address Louisiana’s failure to comply with the NVRA. The complaint cites the results of investigations and interviews of public assistance clients showing widespread non-compliance, as well as the admission of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that it had only a fraction of the number of voter registration forms necessary to comply with the NVRA.