ACLU Endorses New Voting Reform Legislation As Best Way to Ensure Uniformity, Accuracy and Accessibility

March 14, 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 Christopher E. Anders, 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 was introduced on Tuesday by Sens. Christopher Dodd, D-CT, and Minority Leader Tom Daschle, D-SD, and by Rep. John Conyers, D-MI. The bill, called the “Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act,” 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.

Anders said the new Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act represents the most complete response to the widespread problem of voting inequality that was largely hidden before last November’s close election in Florida. Unlike the other measures introduced in Congress, Anders 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 and convenience 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 three lawsuits in 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,” Anders said. “Voters should not have to resort to the courts to ensure compliance with the ‘one person-one vote’ rule.”

The ACLU’s Legislative Analysis can be found at: /VotingRights/VotingRights.cfm?ID=240&c=166

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