Voter Registration a Mandated Part of Health Exchanges

Jul 30, 2013

Credit Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain

Vermont will become the third state to offer voter registration through its health insurance marketplace later this year.

Secretary of State Jim Condos on Monday designated Vermont Health Connect as a voter registration agency. Condos acted to comply with Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, known as the motor voter law, which allows for registration at motor vehicle offices and mandates that states designate all offices that provide public assistance as “voter registration agencies”.

Condos says the idea is to ensure that all eligible citizens are provided the opportunity to participate in their constitutional right to vote.

ACLU of Vermont Executive Director Alan Gilbert says most people have not realized they will have the ability to “bundle” signing up for health care and voting, and he hopes that yields a positive impact.

Vermont follows California and New York in announcing implementation of a health exchange voter registration cooperative.

A spokesman from the New York State Board of Elections told WAMC that the agency and the Department of Health would be meeting this week to discuss details of the plan for the Empire State.

Citizen Action of New York Policy Director Bob Cohen is a member of one of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s regional Health Exchange advisory committees.

With the voter registration a federal mandate, why aren’t more states in the process of implementing a cooperative program? Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, who is also Eastern Region Vice-President and member of the Executive Board of the National Association of Secretaries of State, believes it may relate to states that are opting out of controlling their own exchange.

Condos said in the last election, Vermont, with a population of about 600,000, had about 460,000 registered voters.
Open enrollment in health exchanges begins in October.