Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Protect Your Right to Vote Now


The right to vote is protected by more constitutional amendments than any other right we have -- the 1st, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th. And yet, as history shows, it is threatened by misleading campaigns providing false election information, racially motivated voter suppression tactics, improper purging of voter roles, unfounded accusations of fraud and more. Demand that the Department of Justice act to protect voting rights.

We are on the eve of one of the most historic elections of our time. And the last thing America needs right now is another election that leaves us uncertain of its legitimacy.

Unfortunately, there are enough shenanigans going on to raise serious concerns.

The biggest of them all: Attorney General Mukasey and the Department of Justice (DOJ) are walking away from their sacred responsibility to guarantee smooth and fair elections.

While the government is engaged in a highly-publicized attempt to raise the specter of voter fraud against groups who have been working hard to register poor and minority voters, the DOJ is doing little, if anything, to deal with the real problem -- hundreds of thousands, maybe millions, of registered voters who may turn up on Election Day just to be turned away.

Election officials should concentrate their limited resources on expanding access to the ballot box and protecting voters.
Demand that the Department of Justice act to protect voting rights.

The ACLU and other civil rights groups have repeatedly warned Justice Department officials that high-profile, partisan voter fraud investigations before Election Day have a chilling effect on voter turnout. Despite this feedback, the Department of Justice and the FBI continue with these highly publicized and partisan efforts prior to this historic election rather than stopping unlawful behavior in states all over the country where eligible voters are being improperly purged from the rolls.

For example, despite the ACLU’s request to DOJ to intervene to stop states from purging eligible voters, DOJ was silent when Michigan engaged in two statewide voter purge programs that could have disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters in advance of the November 4th election. The voter removal programs were operating in direct violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA), a federal law DOJ is supposed to enforce. By state officials’ own admissions, these programs were impacting hundreds of thousands of voters.

The ACLU -- along with the Advancement Project -- fought these programs in court to protect the integrity of this year’s election. And just last week, a federal judge found both programs to be illegal.

As Election Day fast approaches, help us keep the pressure on the DOJ for a fair election.
Demand that the Department of Justice act to protect voting rights.

If the 2004 election is any indicator, we can expect many more voter suppression tactics to pop up between now and Election Day -- things like voter intimidation masquerading as “poll watching,” misleading campaigns providing false election information, additional unlawful purging of voter rolls, racially motivated voter suppression tactics, unfounded accusations of fraud and much, much more.

The right to vote is protected by more constitutional amendments than any other right we have — the 1st, 14th, 15th, 19th, 24th and 26th. The Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that the right to vote is protective of all rights. Yet, in practice, that precious right is too often trampled upon.

Make sure the Department of Justice takes decisive action before Election Day to protect this sacred right.

Thank you for all you do,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director
ACLU


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