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Testifying today before the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the continuing importance of the Voting Rights Act, Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, repeatedly underscored the importance of keeping our voting system free, fair and accessible to all eligible Americans.>MacNamara pointed to the fact that since 2011 we have seen a huge increase in the number of new restrictive voting laws enacted at the state level. Such laws require restrictive forms of photo ID and/or proof of citizenship in order to vote, restrict independent voter registration drives, decrease early voting, wrongfully purge eligible voters and eliminate Election Day registration. The result is confusion for voters and poll workers alike.>
In her submitted testimony, MacNamara provided numerous examples of eligible voters who have been impacted by new state-level restrictions on the right to vote. From an elderly woman in Tennessee to a veteran in Wisconsin, keeping any eligible voters from participating in the process is undemocratic and un-American.
“What is especially disappointing is that politicians too often are imposing these restrictions on voting rights in order to manipulate the electorate for their own political gain. This is wrong. This is the real threat to the integrity of our elections,” she declared.
The importance of the judiciary in protecting our voting rights cannot be exaggerated. Federal and state courts have invalidated unfair voting laws that take away the right to vote from millions of eligible citizens. To its credit, the Department of Justice has applied the Voting Rights Act cautiously in challenging illegal schemes. It has pre-cleared less-restrictive photo ID requirements, while blocking the most restrictive.
MacNamara concluded by calling on the federal government to step in to ensure the rights of every eligible citizen to vote are protected if states are unable or unwilling to do so. These restrictive voting laws “are costly, unnecessary and undemocratic.”