Lawyers' Committee Urges Congress to Pass Bill to Prohibit Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation, Announces Release of New Report
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 26, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Tuesday, June 26, Public Policy Director Tanya Clay House, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary about deceptive election practices. The real fraud in our election system is nefarious attempts to deceive voters into believing false information about an election or about their rights to vote. Federal law should be strengthened to ensure these tactics are unambiguously illegal and policies must be put in place for the government to immediately correct this information before it prevents otherwise eligible voters from participating in our democracy.
Ms. House urged Congress to pass the critical Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act of 2011, S. 1994 which comports with an upcoming report by the Lawyers' Committee and Common Cause, discussing ongoing deceptive election practices in the states. The report documents calls received through the nonpartisan Election Protection Hotline (1-866-OUR-VOTE) and recommends legislative reforms to protect voters' rights to freely cast a ballot. The Deceptive Practices Bill, introduced by Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) in December 2011, would implement the report's recommendations, providing tough new criminal and civil penalties for those who create and distribute false and deceptive voting information and campaign literature.
All too often, deceptive election practices are utilized by those who seek to circumvent the will of the people for their own political or monetary gain. S. 1994 is a critical piece of legislation that will increase voter confidence in our democratic process. Deceptive election practices undermine the rights of all Americans but particularly target vulnerable communities such as racial and ethnic minorities, students, individuals with disabilities, the elderly, and naturalized citizens.
Current laws fail to effectively address deceptive election practices, so perpetrators go unpunished and continue to deprive voters of their fundamental right to cast a free ballot. "Deceptive practices have created the climate of fear and intimidation that surrounds U.S. elections," said Ms. House in her testimony to Members of the Senate Committee. "In passing the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, Congress will be restoring confidence in our electoral system. The need for this legislation is even more urgent if we are to make every effort to ensure that all Americans may cast a meaningful ballot in the November election."
To read Tanya's full testimony for the Senate Judiciary Committee's Hearing on "Prohibiting the Use of Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Tactics in Federal ElectionsL S. 1994," please click here.
To view the hearing in full, please click here.
The Laywers' Committee and Common Cause are pleased to announce the pending release of a new report on deceptive election practices. The report, "Deceptive Election Practices and Voter Intimidation: The Need for Voter Protection," is the product of several years of diligent work by the Election Protection Coalition, which has received over 500,000 calls from voters to its 1-866-OUR-VOTE Hotline since its inception. The hotline received over 1500 calls during the Wisconsin recall election on June 5, 2012, including reports of deceptive robocalls. "The Lawyers' Committee has been at the forefront of voting rights advocacy of which the Election Protection Program is a key component," said Lawyers' Committee Executive Director Barbara Arnwine. "The reports we have collected through leading Election Protection for nearly 12 years demonstrate that Congress must act now to eliminate deceptive practices and move toward our goal of ensuring equal opportunity at the ballot box."
About the Lawyers' Committee
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers' Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of fair housing and fair lending, community development, employment discrimination, voting, education and environmental justice. For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.