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BATON ROUGE -- A federal lawsuit accusing two state agencies of failing to provide adequate voter registration services for people who get food stamps, disability payments and Medicaid will be fought in court, the state's chief elections officer said Tuesday.
Tony Avelar, Bloomberg NewsPeople stand in line at the Contra Costa County Workforce Services for their monthly debt cards and food stamps in Richmond, Calif., in 2009. The federal government has filed a lawsuit against two Louisiana agencies for failing to ask citizens who see or renew services for food stamps, disability and Medicaid if they wish to register to vote.
"That is the plan at this time," Secretary of State Tom Schedler said. "We feel we have" complied with the law.
The lawsuit was filed in the Baton Rouge-based U.S. Middle District Court and names as defendants Schedler; Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals Bruce Greenstein and his agency; and Ruth Johnson, secretary of the Department of Children and Family Services and her agency.
The lawsuit alleges that agency offices that grant public assistance have failed to regularly ask clients if they want to register to vote and give them forms to register.
"The voting process begins with registration, therefore it is essential that all citizens have unfettered access to voter registration opportunities," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.