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This morning the House Committee on the Judiciary will hold a hearing examining the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) record on voting rights enforcement. Protecting voters’ rights is at the core of what the League of Women Voters does so we have to ask: Why is the Judiciary committee holding this hearing rather than taking on the anti-voter laws that were hastily passed in so many states around the country?
Why aren’t our elected officials looking to see what is behind these state laws that could make it harder for millions of eligible voters to participate in Election 2012?
These anti-voter laws are cloaked as an attempt to bring integrity to our elections systems yet many are now seeing them for what they really are: an assault on voters and one of the greatest self-inflicted threats to our democracy in our lifetimes. The new laws threaten to silence the voices of those least heard and rarely listened to in this country – the poor, the elderly, racial and ethnic minorities, the young and persons with disabilities.
Some progress to blunt the impact of these requirements has been made in the past few months. DOJ objected to voter ID requirements in South Carolina and Texas, states that require preclearance of any changes made to their election laws. The Leagues in both states have intervened in the legal proceedings to protect voters although the final outcome may not be known for a few months. A court in Wisconsin has ordered a permanent injunction against their photo ID law in a case brought by the Wisconsin state League. And just yesterday, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit struck down Arizona's proof-of-citizenship requirement -once again, the League was involved in that case as well.
While Congress sits on its hands, the League is continuing to do what it can to see that voter suppression laws will be struck down in each and every state and come November every eligible citizen will be able to exercise their right to vote and have their vote counted without additional, unnecessary barriers. What would you like Congress to do to protect voting rights?