With 168 days left until election day House Democrats have offered legislation to combat recent changes in voting laws they believe are attempts to suppress the 2012 vote. The legislation, The Voter Empowerment Act, would modernize registration and voting systems as well as usher in online voting as an option. It would also allow same day voting and permit voters to update their registration onsite.
“The ability to vote should be easy, accessible and simple. Yet, there are practices and laws in place that make it harder to vote today than it was even one year ago,” Lewis said. Sixteen states have introduced bills to end election day and same-day voter registration and end other registration opportunities. Lewis also claimed the legislation would simplify voting for military personnel serving overseas.
Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) added that “176 bills have been offered in 42 states” regarding changes in voting. “Three million showed to the polls were turned away from voting” since 2009 Lewis added. He also added that with all the technology the nation is going backwards with regard to access to the ballot box. Fifty million Americans who are eligible to vote are not registered.
Joining Lewis in pushing the Voter Empowerment Act were Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), John Conyers (D-MI), Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Congressional Hispanic Caucus Chairman Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX).
“Pennsylvania has passed one of the most restrictive voter is laws in the county — the laws do nothing to encourage voting,” said Rep. Bob Brady (D-PA). “A misguided legislator passed it,” he added. Conyers said, “the most important vote I’ve case in Congress was was on The Voting Rights Act of 1965 … for the first time since the Civil Rights era were experiencing a not so subtle attack on the right to vote,” he told reporters.
The Voter Empowerment Act merges together several pieces of legislation by Lewis, Brady and Reps. Jim Clyburn, (D-PA) and John Conyers (D-IL).
Interestingly, the legislation does not confront the issue of voter ID. “This legislation is not about voter ID it’s about voter suppression,” Clyburn said. He added that, “Voter ID is not a problem… everyone shows some form of ID the problem is the process to get there. We decided to stay away from things being litigated.”
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Chief Congressional Correspondent, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus. She is heard every Tuesday at 4 p.m. ET on WMCS 1290 in Milwaukee on Earl Ingram’s show The Evening Rush as well as on WPFW every Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Washington DC. You can e-mail her at LBurke007@gmail.com follow her on twitter at @crewof42.