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Comprehensive Legislative Reforms Needed to Prevent Voting Hurdles

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 14, 2013 - Today, Tanya Clay House, Public Policy Director at the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee) provided a statement at a voting rights forum in Northern Virginia hosted by Congressmen Gerry Connolly (D-VA) and Elijah Cummings (D-MD).  Her statement, which outlined some of the challenges voters faced in Virginia and nationwide, was supplemented with the recently released 2012 Preliminary Election Protection Report.

Ms. House's statement included recommendations for a comprehensive reform of the voting process given the problems voters encountered during 2012 election, as well as in previous elections.   "Many American voters were undeterred in the face of confusing laws and procedures, long lines, poorly trained poll workers and administrative hurdles, as well as deceptive voting practices meant to discourage or misinform, and exercised their fundamental  right to cast their ballot in 2012," stated Ms. House.  "Americans should not have to continually face these hurdles just to vote, especially when what can and should be done to correct many of the problems voters face during the electoral process is well known."

The Election Protection coalition, comprised of more than 100 non-partisan organizations and led by the Lawyers' Committee, educated voters about their rights and assisted them when problems arose to ensure access to the democratic process for all eligible Americans.   Stories about attempts to restrict voter access to the polls dominated headlines leading up to election day. 

"The implementation of restrictive voter ID requirements, and the shortening of early voting periods set the stage for a challenging Election Day," stated Lawyers' Committee Voting Rights Associate Counsel, Dara Lindenbaum. "Voters also experienced lingering problems from previous elections, including long lines, voter registration and polling location confusion.  If we do not learn from the past, consequently, these same challenges are bound to be repeated in future elections."

Congress has a unique opportunity to ensure that an accessible and secure election system is available to all eligible voters. The Lawyers' Committee looks forward to working with leaders on both sides of the aisle to make that opportunity a reality.  Later this month, the Lawyers' Committee will release a comprehensive Election Protection report detailing the recurring problems that continue to perplex election officials and make it difficult for Americans to vote.  The report will also include proposals that legislators should adopt to finally confront these problems in order to restore and maintain the integrity of our electoral process, thereby ensuring our elections are free, fair, and accessible to all eligible voters.

Ms. House's full statement is available here.

The preliminary Election Protection Report is available here.

About the Lawyers' Committee

The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (Lawyers' Committee), 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. We are celebrating our 50th anniversary in 2013 as we continue our quest of "Moving America Toward Justice." 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; voting; education and environmental justice.  For more information about the Lawyers' Committee, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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Note to Media: To coordinate interview opportunities with Lawyers' Committee staff, please contact Kim Hayes, 202-662-8318 or khayes@lawyerscommittee.org 

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