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Voting Rights Showdown: Pass the Voter Empowerment Act

Posted by Admin On June - 21 - 2012

OPENING ReMARCs (6/19/12) (Reprint)


By Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League


Right now in Florida, a battle is raging over the voting rights of several thousand Floridians.  State officials there want to throw them off the voting rolls, claiming they are not citizens. But county elections officials are refusing to comply, saying they don’t trust the government’s list. Indeed, out of a list of 2,700 names, only 40 had been identified as non-citizens.  So far, more than 500 who are on the government’s list actually have been identified as citizens, with full voting rights.
Florida officials, like so many state lawmakers across the nation have devised a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist – and in the process, are creating a huge problem. The constitutionally-protected rights of eligible voters – most of them minorities, senior citizens, students, service members and the disabled – are being shoved aside by restrictive voter ID laws, shrinking poll hours and unnecessary barriers to registration.
It’s no accident that voter suppression efforts target the very same people who stand to lose the most in the ongoing effort to dismantle the social safety net.
Legislation pending in Congress could go a long way toward reversing this dangerous trend. We support the Voter Empowerment Act, a comprehensive remedy to modernize registration, protect equal access to the ballot box and prohibit deceptive practices that keep people from voting. Find out more at our Occupy The Vote elections center.


Pass the Voter Empowerment Act

“With a pivotal presidential election just six months away, we must do all we can to ensure free and fair elections and that everyone can vote.” 

Pass the Voter Empowerment Act

Thanks to rising citizen outrage and efforts like the National Urban League’s “Occupy the Vote” campaign, the voter suppression movement is facing mounting resistance.  As we reported several weeks ago, voter suppression laws in Florida designed to purge voter rolls and make it more difficult to register voters, have now been challenged by the Justice Department.   There is also a new bill in the U.S. House of Representatives which takes direct aim at some of the most egregious voter suppression tactics being employed or considered in dozens of states throughout the nation.  These tactics include elimination of Election Day and same-day registration, reductions in early voting periods and absentee voting opportunities, and new restrictions on voter registration drives.  These measures could prevent millions of eligible voters from exercising their constitutional right to vote and they disproportionately affect our service members, people with disabilities, minorities, young people, seniors and low income Americans.

 As we approach the 2012 presidential election, we should be encouraging more, not less voting by the American people.  In the 2008 presidential election about three million Americans were turned away from the polls due to voter registration problems.  And an estimated 51 million Americans eligible to vote are not registered.  Still there are those who are determined to keep even more people from voting.  This is a travesty, it’s un-American and it dis-honors the sacrifice of generations of voting rights foot soldiers who fought and died to guarantee every citizen the right to vote.
Sponsored by Representatives John Lewis (GA), John Conyers (MI), Steny Hoyer (MD), James Clyburn (SC), and Robert Brady (PA), the Voter Empowerment Act (H.R. 5799), would fight back by ensuring equal access to the ballot box, protecting the integrity of voting systems and mandating accountability for fair elections. Among its provisions, the bill calls for
Modernizing the voter registration system, including allowing for on-line registration Requiring universities that receive federal funds to encourage students to register Setting standards for voting machines Simplifying the registration process for overseas military service men and women Authorizing same-day registration Empowering the Election Assistance Commission to ensure high standards and fair elections
Removing barriers for people with disabilities   
The Voter Empowerment Act is the most serious attempt to date by Congress to protect voters from the recent on-slaught of restrictive voting measures that make it harder for millions of eligible voters to register or vote.   In describing the bill in a recent op-ed in the Hill newspaper, Congressmen Conyers and Brady write, “The bill declares that a voter shall not be denied the right to vote unless the challenge is corroborated by independent evidence, and it also prohibits persons other than election officials from challenging a voter’s eligibility based on voter caging and other questionable challenges.”
John Lewis, a veteran of the civil rights movement, who was beaten during the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” voting rights march in Selma, Alabama, added, “The ability to vote should be easy, accessible and simple…We should be moving toward a more inclusive democracy, not one that locks people out.”  We agree.  Occupy the Vote.  Pass the Voter Empowerment Act now

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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