• Description

The National Voter Registration Act ("NVRA") requires states that have not adopted automatic voter registration to designate certain public offices as "Voter Registration Agencies." These Voter Registration Agencies are required to offer voter registration to the public in certain specific ways. In 1995, after passage of the NVRA, Texas designated public libraries as one category of publicly funded offices that must serve as Voter Registration Agencies if they meet certain funding and hours-of-operation requirements.

Beginning in 2020, the Texas Civil Rights Project learned that of the more than 500 independent public library systems in Texas—comprised of thousands of local branches—not a single public library was in full compliance with its obligations under the Texas Election Code.

This initial finding raised serious questions as to whether libraries were providing the voter registration opportunities guaranteed to Texans by the NVRA and the Texas Election Code. After TCRP sent thousands of letters to library directors, discussed requirements with hundreds of librarians and county election officials, and issued public records requests to various election authorities, more than 290 different library systems have now submitted an NVRA Implementation Plan as of January 1, 2022 and about 70 others are in the process of doing so.

While this is significant progress, there is much work left to do to guarantee that every Texan in every community across the State has access to the voter registration opportunities guaranteed to them by law. TCRP continues to offer assistance to libraries and has developed educational materials to help libraries more easily train staff and volunteers. Nevertheless, TCRP calls on the Texas Secretary of State to fulfill his duties to protect Texans' voting rights, and calls on our communities to assist us in ensuring that every public library is conforming to the law.