Douglas R. Hess, Co-Author of Unequal Access: Neglecting the National Voter Registration Act, 1995-2007, submitted this post as a guest blogger for The Hill.

Millions of citizens from the populations that are least registered to vote are being denied opportunities to register.

All Americans should have an opportunity to register and vote, but states are ignoring a federal law that requires them to offer voter registration to low-income citizens. In 2006, more than twice as many low-income Americans were unregistered as upper-income Americans.

Congress passed the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in 1993 to increase the number of eligible Americans registered to vote. The NVRA is the only federal law that requires government agencies to offer voter registration services to the public. Although often called “Motor Voter

While 2.6 million people registered to vote through public assistance agencies during the first two years of the law’s implementation (1994-1996), that number has fallen to about 500,000 (during 2005-2006). In visits to agency sites in numerous states, Project Vote and Demos found many instances of offices not offering voter registration.

That these registration numbers could be substantially improved is evident in the fact that some agencies, notable ones are in Iowa and North Carolina, have recently made improvements to their registration programs have seen the number of clients that they are registering soar.

The report also faults the Department of Justice for failing to take on its enforcement responsibilities under the Act despite being presented with evidence of states failing to implement the law.