PFAW Expresses Concerns Over Hoyer-Ney Election Reform Proposal

PFAW Reiterates Endorsement of Dodd-Conyers Bill

Statement of People For the American Way President Ralph G. Neas:

People For the American Way and its 500,000 members and supporters nationwide have a rich history of promoting strong democratic institutions. Central to fulfilling that mission is our work supporting the right to vote and the right to have that vote counted.

Forty years ago, too many Americans risked or gave their lives to curb the blatant discrimination that prevented millions of Americans from voting. And just one year ago, too many Americans responded to voter mobilization efforts only to be turned away at the polls or to have their votes discarded.

In addition to our support for effective election reform legislation, People For the American Way Foundation has also made a strong commitment to protecting voters’ rights, from its Election Protection program – which just contributed to smooth-running gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia – to the lawsuit it helped begin in Florida on behalf of disenfranchised African-American voters.

Today, People For the American Way reaffirms its support for the Dodd-Conyers proposal because it creates fair and uniform standards for ballots, voter education, poll worker training, and voting equipment and procedures.

We appreciate Congressman Hoyer’s cosponsorship of the Dodd-Conyers bill, and, while we are pleased with some elements of the Hoyer-Ney proposal, an alternative which clearly has bipartisan support and includes adequate funding, we have a number of serious concerns about that bill:

It advances no national standards for voting equipment.
It directs states to self-certify their compliance with existing civil rights laws, and has few teeth to require such compliance.
It does not go far enough in advancing voting machine accessibility for disabled voters.
It fails to address the voting assistance needs of language minorities.
And it does nothing to address intimidation or discrimination at the polling place.
The two most pressing problems from last year’s election were related to voting equipment and the clear, disproportionate, and adverse impact on African-American and Hispanic voters. The Dodd-Conyers bill most effectively addresses these problems and would help ensure that our nation is spared a repeat of last year’s election crisis, when millions of voters nationwide were disenfranchised.

I urge members of Congress to support the Dodd-Conyers election reform proposal. Dodd-Conyers is the comprehensive solution demanded in the face of the serious problem of voter disenfranchisement. The right to vote – nothing less than the institution that allows America to call itself a democracy – is at stake as our country takes necessary action to reform its voting and election practices in the fairest way possible.

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