Hoyer Remarks at Press Conference On Protecting Voting Rights

For Immediate Release:

November 3, 2011

Contact:

Daniel Reilly, 202-225-3130

WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD-05) delivered remarks today at a press conference to oppose state measures adopted over the last year that would make it harder for eligible voters to register or vote. Whip Hoyer, Ranking Member of the House Administration Committee Robert Brady (PA-01) and other Members of the Democratic Caucus released a letter sent today to Secretaries of State urging them to oppose these new state measures. The letter was signed by 196 House Democrats, including Hoyer and Brady. Click here to read the letter. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“We are just about a year away from a pivotal election. Just as important as the choice we will make is ensuring that all who are eligible can participate in making that choice. The right to vote is fundamental to our entire system of government and the ability of every American to have his or her voice heard in Washington and in their statehouses and city halls.

“Over the course of our history, the right to vote was affirmed through great struggle and sacrifice. Today the right to vote is under threat once again. We are witnessing a concerted effort by Republican lawmakers across several states to place new obstacles in front of minorities, low-income families, and young people who seek to exercise that right.

“Across the country, states are trying to make it harder to vote by making identification requirements stricter and reducing early voting. There have also been efforts to deter voter registration.

“In one Florida high school, a teacher passed out forms to register her voting-age students and now faces $1,000 in fines for failing to make sure election authorities received them within 48 hours. The League of Women Voters has stopped its registration efforts completely in Florida as a result of rules like this one.

“Proponents of these new measures claim they are to counter an epidemic of voter fraud. However, there is simply no evidence to back it up. What is evident is that those making the new rules are doing so because of a political agenda.

“The right to vote does not depend on the politics of the day. Rather, the right to vote is a constitutional and moral right for every citizen. We are here today because those who seek to restrict it ought to know that Democrats are pursuing ways to protect Americans’ right to vote. Democrats are ready to work with public officials of any party to ensure that every person eligible to vote can do so. But we will make a strong stand against any effort to erect barriers that deter Americans from exercising their most fundamental right to be heard. Such efforts are, essentially, a form of ‘voter profiling' that makes it more difficult for people of certain groups to participate.

“This is simply wrong and has no place in our inclusive democracy.

“We will work closely with the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, and voting-rights groups across the country. The right to vote that so many Americans died fighting to preserve is worth us fighting to protect, and we will. To that end, we are sending a letter to the Secretaries of State in all fifty states urging them to oppose these new restrictions on voter access. I am proud to be joined today by other Democratic members who have signed this letter.”

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