Ralph G. Neas, President of People For the American Way (PFAW), spoke at a news conference on Capitol Hill marking the introduction of the “Count Every Vote Act” by Senators Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), John Kerry (D-MA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ).
PFAW’s sister organization, People For the American Way Foundation (PFAWF), is a founding member of the Election Protection coalition, which deployed 25,000 poll monitors and voter assistance volunteers at polling sites throughout the nation during the November elections.
Neas released the following statement:
“I want to salute the extraordinary leadership of Senators Clinton, Boxer, Kerry and Lautenberg. This bill will do more than encourage civic participation. It is a landmark civil rights measure that will assist millions of Americans who, because of criminal intent or criminal neglect, have faced disenfranchisement at the nation’s polls.
“Every American citizen deserves to go to the polls and cast a vote that will be counted. This bill provides practical, secure and accessible solutions at the ballot box for Americans with disabilities, those who speak languages other than English, and other Americans who face hurdles in exercising their voting rights. It’s a great bill.
“This is thoughtful legislation that will address many of the problems our volunteers encountered across the country during the 2004 elections. It provides voter-verifiable audit trails, so that voters can be sure the votes they cast are accurate, and their votes are cast securely and counted with integrity.
“It restores voting rights to ex-felons who have paid their debt to society by completing their incarceration, probation and parole, and helps them re-engage as full participants in society.
“It addresses the administrative problems and inequities that caused some of the most disturbing problems we saw in 2004 – impossibly long lines at polling places, inequitable distribution of voting machines, insufficient numbers of poll workers, and a range of problems that tended to disenfranchise primarily minority and low-income voters around the nation.
“The bill increases access to the ballot box by requirements such as same-day voter registration, early voting and no-excuse absentee voting. It’s a milestone in the effort to reform our electoral process.”