April 1991 Home   Newsletters

May 1991

June-July 1991

President's Message (Arlene Ellis)
League Testifies
Volunteers Needed to Help Neglected and Abused Children
Letters from Leaguers (Sam Szucs)
Letters from Leaguers - 2 (Mildred Walston)
Citizen's Petition - The National Voter Registration Act
Q & A on Voter Registration Reform Legislation
For Action! Petition Congress - National Voting Act
Officers and Board of Directors Approved at Annual Meeting
LWV-Hawaii Convention 1991

Questions And Answers on Voter Registration Reform Legislation

Q. What is the National Voter Registration Act

A. The National Voter Registration Act would enable all eligible U.S. citizens to register to vote for federal elections in three simple and efficient ways-when applying for or renewing a driver's license or non-driver ID; by mail; or at selected government agencies.

Q. Why is the legislation referred to as the "motor voter" bill?

A. The nickname comes from the bill's main provision, which would enable individuals to apply to register to vote simultaneously when they apply for, renew or change the address on their driver's license or non-driver ID.

Q. Why is voter registration reform needed?

A. Barely half of all eligible voters participated in the last presidential election. According to preliminary data, less than 40 percent of all eligible voters turned out for the 1990 elections. The motor voter legislation would help revive declining voter participation by breaking down government-erected barriers that inhibit citizen participation.

Nearly one-third of adult Americans move within a two year period. They deserve an efficient way to register to vote, like the motor voter system. In some areas, registration is difficult because of inconvenient hours and hard-to-find locations. In others, registration procedures have discriminatory effects. The National Voter Registration Act would provide simple and efficient ways to register to vote.

Q. Who is not registered to vote?

A. More than 70 million eligible Americans are not registered to vote. Due to the mobile nature of our society, many potential voters find themselves disenfranchised. Citizens inadvertently drop out of the system when they move because voter registration procedures and sites are often not widely publicized and because voter registration laws differ from state to state and from locality to locality. In addition, young people often are not registered to vote. Finally, people with incomes below $25,000 and those who have not had the opportunity to go to college, often are not registered to vote.

Q. Why does the League believe voter registration reform will increase participation? Isn't the public simply disenchanted with "the system?"

A. In a NY Times/CBS poll after the 1988 presidential election, nonvoters cited restrictive registration requirements as the most significant cause for their lack of participation. In fact, when people are registered, they do vote. In past presidential elections, 80 to 90 percent of registered voters participated.

Q. How will the legislation affect voter registration?

A. More than 90 percent of eligible voters would be reached by the National Voter Registration Act.

Q. Not everyone drives. How will the legislation serve these people?

A. Those who do not drive may apply to register to vote by mail, when they apply for a nondriver ID, or at designated government agencies such as schools, vocational rehabilitation centers and public libraries.

Q. What if someone doesn't want to register to vote?

A. Motor voter forms will contain a simple way for people to decline to register to vote, such as checking a "no" box on the form.

Q. Will the motor voter bill change who is eligible to vote?

A. No, eligibility requirements will remain the same. Only U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older

League of Women Voters of the United States,
1730 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20036 (202-429-1965)

April 1991 Home   Newsletters June-July 1991