ACLU Endorses "Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act of 2001" As Best Way to Ensure Uniformity, Accuracy and Accessibility

June 21, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – Saying that effective federal legislation is the best way to repair the nation’s broken election system, the American Civil Liberties Union today endorsed new voting reform legislation that would assist state and local governments in meeting their constitutional duty of providing equal protection for all voters.

“In its post-election decision, the Supreme Court made clear that every vote must be given equal weight under the Constitution,” said LaShawn Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “We believe that Congress must act now – during a time of unprecedented budget surpluses – to ensure that every person has the right to vote and that every vote is counted fairly.”

The legislation endorsed by the ACLU has been introduced by Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-CT and Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD, and by Rep. John Conyers, D-MI. The bill, called the “Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act of 2001,” would meet the three principal goals of election reform – uniformity, accuracy and accessibility – and provide the money to help state and local governments fund necessary improvements.

Warren said the new “Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act of 2001” represents the most comprehensive response to the widespread problem of voting inequality that went largely ignored prior to the November 2000 election. Unlike the other measures introduced in Congress, Warren said the Equal Protection bill would set uniform performance standards for voting equipment, promote accuracy by upgrading technology and allowing voters to correct any balloting errors and ensure accessibility for all voters, including language minorities and people with disabilities.

In addition to lobbying for election reform in Washington and in state legislatures, the ACLU has also filed four lawsuits in California, Georgia, Illinois and Florida. The litigation has already resulted in one success: a state judge in Illinois ordered the use of improved voting technology in Cook County for municipal elections held two weeks ago.

“Effective federal legislation is the most certain and complete way to repair the nation’s broken election system,” Warren said. “Voters should not have to resort to the courts to ensure compliance with the ‘one person-one vote’ rule.”

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