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PROTECT YOUR RIGHT TO VOTE!

Americans’ right to vote is being threatened on multiple fronts, primarily to the detriment of minorities and the poor. Americans for Democratic Action notes with alarm the recent passage of legislation in numerous state legislatures and changes in administrative procedures in many states which prevent or severely burden the rights of citizens to vote.  Without justification, these new laws and procedures are plainly intended to, and have the effect of, inhibiting and discouraging voting by the young, the elderly, the disabled and the poor.  Under the pretext of preventing “voter fraud” and of preventing unnecessary expenditures of increasingly scarce public funds in the current poor economy, these irrational measures fail to prevent or deter the misbehavior they pretend to address and burden most severely portions of our citizens who are most in need of assistance for access to the ballot.

These burdensome measures include the requirement that voters present government-issued identification in order to vote, increasingly difficult voter registration procedures, decreased access to absentee voting, decreased access to early voting, and ending Election Day voter registration in jurisdictions where such registrations have proved trouble-free.

Therefore Americans for Democratic Action supports:

  • Legislation to prevent the use of voter identification and other unnecessary, discriminatory tactics to suppress the vote of certain groups. Voter impersonation is in fact extremely rare. Reasonably reliable identity requirements should be permitted only for initial registration.
  • Action to restore the statutory purpose of the Voting Rights section of the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, the vigorous enforcement of voting rights, investigating intimidation and other vote-suppression tactics.
  • Exploration of executive and legislative means to promote the enfranchisement of felons who have paid their debt to society.
  • Strengthening of the Help America Vote Act to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their right to vote and so every vote is accurately counted. That requires a verifiable paper trail available for a recount, as needed. Funding should be provided for states to acquire optical scan equipment, rather than insecure electronic voting units. It also requires monitoring the improper purging of voting rolls and the use of deceptive ballots.
  • Making Election Day a national holiday, so work requirements do not prevent voters from exercising the franchise. It would additionally make available a larger pool of non-partisan and bi-partisan voting officials.
  • Enacting legislation forthwith to fully enfranchise residents of the District of Columbia. Congress should at least pass the legislation currently before Congress providing a voting Member of Congress to the District along with an extra representative for Utah.

WHAT IS VOTER SUPPRESSION?

Voter suppression refers to any policy or practice that discourages or prevents people from voting. Former Attorney General Eric Holder compared voter ID laws to a “poll tax” for those people who might have to travel great distances or spend money to obtain an ID. Other forms of voter suppression include proof of citizenship requirements for registering or voting, intimidating voters through deceptive practices and intimidation, failing to provide voting materials in the language the voter speaks, and limiting the voting rights of ex-felons.

Voter suppression laws represent the worst kind of partisan politics, where politicians are taking away people’s right to vote in order to advance their agenda instead of working to restore balance to our economy. Voter suppression laws are a key piece to a broader rightwing campaign that includes eliminating collective bargaining rights, pushing anti-immigrant legislation and privatizing key public services—all designed to silence the voices of the 99% and advance the desires of the top 1%. And they show just how willing politicians are to advance a partisan agenda regardless of its impact on people.

WHAT CAN YOUR ADA CHAPTER DO TO HELP PREVENT VOTER SUPPRESSION?

  • Register new voters! Community groups can register and engage in voters in dialogue about the issues. Here are state resources for how your group can register voters and conduct voter registration drives.
  • Plan a campaign to ensure voters have the necessary IDs! If your state has adopted a restrictive voter ID or proof of citizenship law, it’s important for your group to get out and canvass voters to make sure they have the necessary government issued photo ID.
  • Educate your community about what they need to do in order to vote! Even if your group doesn’t have the capacity to do a canvass on voter ID laws, you can still educate your community about what is required in order to vote and collect stories about how difficult it is for some voters to get a government issued photo ID.
  • Push for state funding for public education campaigns about photo ID laws! In states where voter ID legislation is pending or where such laws have already been adopted, community groups can push for some sort of public education campaign to educate voters about the change in the law. Here’s information about the types of public education campaigns that have been taking across.
  • Push for same-day voter registration legislation in your state: One great way to ensure better turnout is to allow for voters to register to vote on Election Day. A few states are currently looking at adopting same-day voter registration.
  • Support litigation to challenge voter suppression efforts! Many community groups challenge proof of citizenship and voter ID laws in the courts. Even if your group doesn’t have the resources to file a lawsuit, you may be able to promote these efforts through your social media or communication strategies.

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