The State of Missouri agreed Thursday to pay $450,000 to a community organizing group to help settle a voter registration lawsuit it filed last year.
The money would pay lawyers hired by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, in its suit against the Missouri Department of Social Services.
In the settlement, filed in federal court, the department agreed to establish procedures ensuring that the state helps low-income and disabled people register to vote when they visit social service offices.
A national voter registration act, called the “motor-voter” law, requires public aid agencies offering food stamps and Medicaid to provide clients with the chance to register to vote and to help them.
ACORN filed its suit in April 2008, alleging that the state wasn’t meeting its obligations under the law. Three months later, a federal judge ordered the state to begin taking concrete steps to help its clients register to vote.
Since then, the state has taken extraordinary steps to comply with the federal law, said Jon Greenbaum, legal director at the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented ACORN.
“The lawsuit has led to a 2,000 percent increase in the number of people registering to vote at Missouri public assistance agencies,” Greenbaum said. “We appreciate that since they’ve been under court order, Missouri’s Department of Social Services has been a national model in showing how to implement this law.
Read the complete story at kansascity.com.