White House: Americans Can Register To Vote When Signing Up For Obamacare

Americans will be able to register to vote when applying for insurance through Obamacare, a White House official told TPM Tuesday, despite reports to the contrary and outcry from congressional Republicans.

Mother Jones reported earlier Tuesday on a report from progressive groups, which asserted that the Obama administration was planning to back down from its plan to offer voter registration on the federal marketplace, which will cover 36 states. The source of the claim is unclear, which the Mother Jones article acknowledged, but it sparked some panic among liberal activists.

Not to worry, a senior administration official told TPM: Voter registration through the health insurance marketplaces will continue as planned. The official said any reports to the contrary were “inaccurate.”

Insurance applications filed under the health care reform law are required by law to have a section for voter registration. The 1993 National Voter Registration Act mandates that any government agencies providing government services must also provide people with access to voter registration.

The Obama administration had previously said that the marketplaces fell under the 1993 law’s statute and would therefore offer voter registration. That’s still the plan, according to the senior administration official.

According to Mother Jones, the left-leaning policy group Demos and voter registration rights group Project Vote posted a report last month that the Obama administration would not offer voter registration services on the marketplaces. Instead, the insurance application would simply link consumers to a mail-in form.

When contacted by the magazine, the groups seemed to back off the report, saying that they had considering pulling it.

Congressional offices had been in touch about the matter, according to Mother Jones, though HHS had declined to comment to the magazine. HHS didn’t immediately respond to TPM’s request for comment.

Congressional Republicans have been critical of voter registration on the marketplaces. House Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Charles Boustany, Jr. (R-LA) wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in March, questioning the administration’s plan.

Combining voter registration with the Obamacare marketplace, Boustany wrote, “could lead some to think voter registration is somehow tied to subsidy eligibility.”

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