NC Board of Elections Should Issue National Voter Registration Act Guidance to County Boards

Voting Rights

During the 2022 election cycle, voter registration groups in North Carolina ran into a new problem: a shortage of paper copies of registration forms. Groups were forced to pay to print the forms themselves—or, if they couldn’t, had to abandon their plans to hold registration drives. And at least one county board of elections tried to charge registration groups for forms, too.

But under the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), the state is responsible for making sure that voter registration forms are available to the public, and specifically available to groups holding voter registration drives. That responsibility and financial burden must not be shifted to the public due to unexpected supply chain issues or a county board’s aversion to incurring printing costs.

In response, SCSJ and our partners are requesting the State Board of Elections to issue clear guidance to the county boards of elections outlining their obligations under the NVRA and the requirement that they fulfill requests for voter registration drive materials at no cost to the requestor. We further encourage the State Board to take all other available steps to increase the availability of voter registration applications, as well as other methods of voter registration.

This is especially important in light of the state Supreme Court’s decision on Friday, April 28, 2023, reinstating North Carolina’s felony disenfranchisement law, which has led the State Board to once again revise its voter registration forms. In a press release, the State Board noted that it is working with its printing vendor to print copies of the new forms but did not indicate when these forms will be readily available to county boards of elections, government agencies that provide voter registration services, and third-party organizations that conduct registration drives. These changes and delays make guidance to the county boards of elections on their duty to provide these forms without charge all the more timely and important.

Read our letter to the State Board below.