National Voter Registration Act

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In 1993 the U.S. Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act, codified as 52 U.S.C. § 20501 - 52 U.S.C. § 20511. The law has been commonly dubbed the "Motor Voter" program due to the law's requirement that driver's license facilities (as well as a number of other agencies) offer voter registration services to their clients. Congress required most states to pass legislation and implement the programs of the act by January 1, 1995. Tennessee fully implemented the program by that date. Some of the act's programs (such as by-mail voter registration) were already available in Tennessee. Under this legislation, Tennessee established a network of cooperative efforts between local county election commissions and numerous state and local agencies. The participating voter registration agencies in Tennessee are the following: the Department of Safety (motor vehicles division), Department of Health (WIC program), Department of Human Services, Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, Department of Veterans Affairs, public libraries, public high schools, county clerks, and registers of deeds. T.C.A. § 2-2-202.

In addition to expanding the locations for voter registration, the law made substantial reforms in voter registration record keeping and maintenance. It eliminates purging a voter record for non-voting (formerly practiced in Tennessee) and requires election commissions to accommodate voters who have moved within a county but failed to update their voter registration.