Motor Voter Act / The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA) Law & Legal Definition


The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), popularly known as The Motor Voter Act, is a legislation that required state governments to allow registration when a qualifying voter applied for or renewed their drivers license or applied for social services. This legislation forced state governments to make the voter registration process easier by providing uniform registration services through drivers' license registration centers, disability centers, schools, libraries, and mail-in registration.

The NVRA allows the Department of Justice to bring civil actions in federal court to enforce its requirements. The Act also gives the responsibility to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to provide States with guidance on the Act, to develop a national mail voter registration form, and to compile reports on the effectiveness of the Act.

In addition to the methods of voter registration offered by the States, the Act requires states to provide the opportunity to apply to register to vote for federal elections by three means:

  • States should provide individuals with the opportunity to register to vote at the same time that they apply for a driver's license or seek to renew a driver's license, and requires the State to forward the completed application to the appropriate state of local election official. [Section 5]
  • States should offer voter registration opportunities at all offices that provide public assistance and all offices that provide state-funded programs primarily engaged in providing services to persons with disabilities. Each applicant for any of these services, renewal of services, or address changes must be provided with a voter registration form of a declination form as well as assistance in completing the form and forwarding the completed application to the appropriate state or local election official. [Section 7 ]
  • Citizens can register to vote by mail using mail-in-forms developed by each state and the Election Assistance Commission.[ Section 6 ]

Further, the Act also creates requirements as to how States should maintain voter registration lists for federal elections.[ Section 8]

The Act applies to 44 states and the District of Columbia. Those states which did not have voter registration requirements or had election-day registration at polling places were exempted from the purview of the Act.