Under the Dome

Groups threaten to sue DMV over voter registration problems

Several voting rights organizations and residents of North Carolina on Monday threatened to sue the state over concerns that Division of Motor Vehicles offices aren’t offering to register voters, as required by law.

Demos, Project Vote and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice sent a pre-litigation letter to Kim Strach, executive director of the state Board of Elections; Tony Tata, secretary of the state Department of Transportation; and Kelly Thomas, commissioner of motor vehicles. The letter triggers a 90-day period allowing advocates and state officials to try to resolve the complaint before a lawsuit is filed.

Last month the groups took a similar strategy with the state Department of Health and Human Services, which they contend also have failed to help public assistance recipients register to vote.

The issue was raised last month. Transportation officials said they didn’t think there was more than an isolated problem. The groups’ letter contends the problem is widespread.

DHHS representatives said they were looking into the complaint, but didn’t yet know if the data analysis used by the groups was accurate.

Democracy North Carolina did the analysis, which was based on the number of people who had to cast provisional ballots because local poll workers couldn’t find their names, who turned out to have registered at DMV or public assistance offices.