A report by a national nonprofit organization says Iowa leads the nation in registering new voters through its human services agencies. Steve Carbo is a spokesman for the National Voter Registration Act implementation project. He says there’s a provision in the registration act that requires states to ask people if they’d like to register to vote when they sign up for government services like food stamps. He says, “The unfortunate finding, with the strong exception of Iowa, is that most states have totally overlooked these provisions.” He says registration of people on public assistance has dropped 60-percent in the last eight years. Carbo says Arizona and Pennsylvania saw small increases — but Iowa led the nation in registering voters on public assistance. He says voter registration at public assistance agencies in Iowa has risen three-thousand percent. Carbo says the lack of nationwide effort is disappointing. He says there are very simple steps that led to the increase, such as offering voter registration in waiting rooms, tracking voter registration activity and designation staffmembers as coordinators for the registration activity. Iowa’s Commissioner of Elections, Chet Culver, says the state saw an eight-fold increase in registered voters on public assistance from 2000 to 2004. He says it went from roughly 15-hundred to over 12-thousand people. He says interestingly enough, that’s the difference in votes between George Bush and Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election. Culver says the Department of Human Services; the Women, infants and Children program and the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation Services all participated in the effort to register voters.
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