April 19, 2002

Senate Passes H.R. 3295 Election Reform Legislation

On April 11, 2002, the Senate, by unanimous consent, passed an amended version of H.R. 3295, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act of 2002. This election reform bill includes SSA-related provisions concerning the use of Social Security numbers for voter registration, election administration, and computerized voter registration lists.

Specifically the bill would:

  • Permit any State or political subdivision to use the Social Security number issued by the Commissioner of Social Security for the purpose of establishing identification of individuals and may require individuals to furnish their Social Security number if required by the State for the administration of voter registration or other election law.
  • Require the Commissioner of Social Security to verify certain information for States or localities that maintain a computerized centralized statewide voter registration list. It would require SSA to provide to State/localities, upon their request, verification of the Social Security number of an individual and whether such individual is shown on our records as being deceased for voter registration purposes. The information that any state/locality receives from Social Security may only be shared with election officials.
  • Require the Commissioner of Social Security to prescribe the place and manner for the exchange of this information to protect and prevent the misuse of information.
  • Require the Commissioner of Social Security to determine if a request for a record of an individual should not be granted based on exceptional circumstances, such as the safety of the individual or interference with an investigation.
  • Require individuals who are registering to vote to meet certain registration requirements. Specifically, the bill would allow States to require an individual, who registers to vote by mail, to submit at least the last four digits of the individual's Social Security number with the registration if the information matches an existing State record bearing the same number, name and date of birth provided in the registration.

The House version of the bill passed in December 2001. The Senate amended H.R. 3295 by inserting the language of S. 565, which was approved on April 11, 2002, by a vote of 99 to 1. The Senate has requested a conference with the House to reconcile differences between the House and Senate versions of H.R. 3295.