According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, voter registration must be offered on the ACA exchange application because of the Medicaid eligibility determination. To be in compliance, CMS says they are including language on the paper and online applications that says, “If you want to register to vote, you can complete a voter registration form at usa.gov.” States that have opted to create their own exchanges are able to develop their own applications and choose how they enforce the National Voter Registration Act requirement.
California was the first state to decide to enforce voter registration requirements through the ACA. “Nearly 5.8 million Californians who are otherwise eligible to vote are not currently registered,” said Democratic state Sen. Alex Padilla, who authored the bill enforcing voter registration. “Covered California [the state’s exchange] provides a unique opportunity to reduce the number of unregistered Californians and increase participation.”
Five other states have also publicly announced their intention to enforce the National Voter Registration Act: Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont, according to Eunice Rho, advocacy and policy counsel for ACLU. The six states are solidly blue, but Rho says that divide began with the broader decision of whether to establish a state-based exchange. States that opted to create their own tend to lean Democratic.
However, Rho maintains that the voter-registration element is a nonpartisan issue. “We should all agree that voters should be given the opportunity to participate in the political process,” she said. “Why not get at voters when they’re accessing the system in large numbers?”