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52 U.S. Code § 20501 - Findings and purposes

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(a) FindingsThe Congress finds that—
the right of citizens of the United States to vote is a fundamental right;
it is the duty of the Federal, State, and local governments to promote the exercise of that right; and
discriminatory and unfair registration laws and procedures can have a direct and damaging effect on voter participation in elections for Federal office and disproportionately harm voter participation by various groups, including racial minorities.
(b) PurposesThe purposes of this chapter are—
to establish procedures that will increase the number of eligible citizens who register to vote in elections for Federal office;
to make it possible for Federal, State, and local governments to implement this chapter in a manner that enhances the participation of eligible citizens as voters in elections for Federal office;
to protect the integrity of the electoral process; and
to ensure that accurate and current voter registration rolls are maintained.
Editorial Notes
References in Text

This chapter, referred to in subsec. (b), was in the original “this Act”, meaning Pub. L. 103–31, May 20, 1993, 107 Stat. 77, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Tables.


Section was formerly classified to section 1973gg of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare, prior to editorial reclassification and renumbering as this section.

Statutory Notes and Related Subsidiaries
Effective Date

Pub. L. 103–31, § 13, May 20, 1993, 107 Stat. 89, provided that:

“This Act [see Tables for classification] shall take effect—
“(1) with respect to a State that on the date of enactment of this Act [May 20, 1993] has a provision in the constitution of the State that would preclude compliance with this Act unless the State maintained separate Federal and State official lists of eligible voters, on the later of—
January 1, 1996; or
the date that is 120 days after the date by which, under the constitution of the State as in effect on the date of enactment of this Act, it would be legally possible to adopt and place into effect any amendments to the constitution of the State that are necessary to permit such compliance with this Act without requiring a special election; and
with respect to any State not described in paragraph (1), on January 1, 1995.”
Proof of Citizenship

Pub. L. 104–132, title IX, § 902, Apr. 24, 1996, 110 Stat. 1317, provided that:

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a Federal, State, or local government agency may not use a voter registration card (or other related document) that evidences registration for an election for Federal office, as evidence to prove United States citizenship.”

Similar provisions were contained in section 117 of H.R. 2076, One Hundred Fourth Congress, as passed by the House of Representatives on Dec. 6, 1995, and as enacted into law by Pub. L. 104–91, title I, § 101(a), Jan. 6, 1996, 110 Stat. 11, as amended by Pub. L. 104–99, title II, § 211, Jan. 26, 1996, 110 Stat. 37.