WASHINGTON – Recent changes to state voting laws that will deprive millions of their right to vote must be reversed, ACLU Washington Legislative Director Laura W. Murphy will tell members of Congress this afternoon.
Murphy will testify today at a voting rights forum sponsored by members of the U. S. of Representatives examining issues related to new state voter laws. During the 2011 state legislative season, measures that would restrict citizens’ access to the ballot have been introduced in more than 30 states and 16 states advanced new or expanded barriers to voting.
These obstacles to voting include laws that: require government issued photo ID when voting in person; mandate proof of citizenship when registering to vote; eliminate the right to register to vote and to submit a change of address within the same state on Election Day; shorten the time allowed for early voting; make it more difficult for third-party organizations to conduct voter registration; rollback laws restoring the right to vote for people with criminal convictions; and eliminate a mandate on poll workers to direct voters who go to the wrong precinct.
“Elected officials should be seeking ways to encourage more voters, not inventing baseless reasons to deny voters the ability to cast their ballots,” said Murphy. “Requiring photo ID to vote places unnecessary obstacles between citizens and their right to vote and disproportionately impacts people of color, students, the elderly, voters with disabilities, and others unable to obtain relevant documents.”
Murphy will call on Congress for passage of uniform federal laws designed to protect, restore and expand all citizens’ fundamental right to vote, as it did by passing the historic Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the Help America Vote Act. The ACLU has also urged the Department of Justice to fully enforce federal laws where the passage of these regressive state laws violate citizens’ fundamental rights.
The forum, “Excluded from Democracy: The Impact of Recent State Voting Law Changes,” is scheduled for today at 2 p.m. at 2226 Rayburn House Office Building. The forum is being put on by several members of Congress including House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers (D-Mich.), House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), House Administration Committee Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-Pa.), House Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee Ranking Member Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.).