FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                   CONTACT: Stephanie Drahan

September 12, 2012                                                     202-263-1332, SDrahan@lwv.org


As election season heats up, League of Women Voters President testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on restrictive voting laws

WASHINGTON, DC – Elisabeth MacNamara, president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, testified today before the Senate Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the continuing importance of the Voting Rights Act, and the importance of keeping our voting system free, fair and accessible to all eligible Americans.

In her written testimony, MacNamara points out that, “Since 2011 we have seen a huge increase in the number of new restrictive voting laws enacted at the state level…These new laws and practices require restrictive forms of photo ID and/or proof of citizenship in order to vote, they restrict independent voter registration drives, decrease early voting, wrongfully purge eligible voters and eliminate Election Day registration. And they create confusion for voters and poll workers alike.

“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.

“There is remarkably little evidence of voter-impersonation fraud, which an ID requirement might block,” MacNamara continues. “The greater threat to the integrity of our elections is that restrictive requirements block eligible voters from voting. And there is clear evidence of that problem.”

 MacNamara provides 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. These examples can be found in MacNamara’s submitted testimony.

 MacNamara adds, “It would be difficult to exaggerate the importance of the judiciary in protecting our voting rights. Both federal courts and state courts have invalidated voter suppression laws and the Department of Justice has cautiously applied the Voting Rights Act in challenging illegal schemes, pre-clearing less-restrictive photo ID requirements while blocking the most restrictive.

 “These voter suppression measures are costly, unnecessary and undemocratic. If the states are unable or unwilling to protect the rights of every eligible citizen to vote, the federal government must step in to ensure these rights are protected,” MacNamara concludes.

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