Senate Passes Flawed Election Reform Bill; ACLU Says Bill Would Do More Harm than Good

April 11, 2002 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON – With the overwhelming passage today of election reform legislation, the American Civil Liberties Union said that the Senate has approved a measure that will do more harm than good.

“While the bill in its original form would have been a true step forward in fixing the problems that became apparent during the 2000 elections, the Senate has included a number of poisoned provisions that threaten to diminish representative democracy in America,” said LaShawn Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.

“These provisions must be excised before this country can ensure that every citizen eligible to vote can vote and have that vote counted,” Warren added.

The ACLU strongly objects to the bill (S. 565) in its current form, which it says contains provisions that would diminish any positive impact that the legislation might have. The Senate-passed bill:

  • Does not preserve existing voting rights protections. The legislation contains a loophole that will allow it supercede both the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, greatly undermining the efforts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Ironically, the legislation was recently amended to name it after Dr. King.
  • Contains overly restrictive photo ID requirements. S. 565 requires certain types of voters to produce photo ID before registering to vote or casting their ballots. Such a requirement erects an additional obstacle to the franchise that would suppress voter participation, especially among students, the disabled, the homeless, African-Americans, Latinos and the poor.
  • Prevents Adequate Enforcement of Compliance. Although the bill requires state compliance by 2006, it contains a so-called “safe harbor” provision that would prevent the Department of Justice from initiating a civil action to compel compliance until 2010.
  • The ACLU Letter to the Senate can be found at:

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