Senators Ben Cardin and Charles Schumer introduced a bill today that would impose tough penalties on those who create and distribute deceptive information on voting and elections. In one such instance in Maryland last year, the campaign manager for the Republican gubernatorial candidate authorized robocalls to black voters on the afternoon of Election Day telling them it was safe to stay home because the election had already been decided.
Attorney General Eric Holder endorsed the bill in a speech last night.
Andrew Gillum, Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s Young Elected Officials Network , said:
“Right-wing politicians and talking heads have aggressively pushed the myth that ‘voter fraud’ is a great threat to the sanctity of our elections. However, the evidence shows that the real threat to our democracy comes from laws that discourage whole communities of people from voting and from devious voter suppression practices like those that took place in Maryland last year. We must fight suppressive laws, like Voter ID requirements, at the legislative level. Deceptive practices can, and should, be combated by law enforcement. This bill takes an important step toward ensuring that all Americans are free to exercise their right to vote without intimidation and harassment.”
Minister Leslie Watson Malachi, Director of People For the American Way Foundation’s African American Ministers Leadership Council , said:
“The most precious right we have as Americans is the right to vote. Those who attempt to deny that right through deceptive practices are committing civil rights violations, and deserve to be prosecuted as such. African American voters have for too long been the target of voter suppression and intimidation. Congress must follow the Justice Department’s lead and take these threats seriously.”