WASHINGTON, DC – House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer joined Senator Hillary Clinton, Democratic Caucus Chairman Bob Menendez, Rep. Chaka Fattah, and People for the American Way President Ralph Neas to highlight examples of voter intimidation. Incidents of voter intimidation were well-documented during the 2000 presidential election and have continued to occur in local and state elections. The following is Rep. Hoyer’s statement as prepared for delivery and below the letter to the networks referenced :
“There is no doubt that 2004 will be another close presidential election. But the American people do not deserve a second election that hangs in the balance for 36 days. Yet the voter intimidation and suppression that were a part of the problem in 2000 persist.
“Just today the Washington Post reported that there are efforts to stymie non-partisan registration in federal clinics serving Native Americans, who are among the most disenfranchised groups in the United States. This is wrong.
“We are here today to say: the American people are not going to stand for it! We will raise awareness of, and be vigilant against, this problem, so there will not be a repeat of the 2000 election debacle.
“The following speakers will address more ‘traditional’ forms of voter intimidation, such as political operatives impersonating undercover police. I would like to address more subtle forms of vote suppression.
“First, there is widespread evidence that there have been registration problems that could result in voters wrongly being turned away from the polls. I am particularly concerned that some states are not processing registration applications if the citizenship box is not checked, even if citizenship is attested to elsewhere on the form. That is not what the Help America Vote Act requires and would result in voters being wrongly turned away. I have written a letter to the Justice Department stressing that this is contrary to the help America vote act and the National Voter Registration Act.
“Second, there are problems with the new voter-identification requirement. While the Help America Vote Act says that the application of ID requirements must be “uniform and non-discriminatory,” many states have yet to ensure this, which could lead to voter suppression.
“Third and finally – provisional ballots. The Help America Vote Act clearly requires that provisional ballots be counted if the voter is eligible to vote according to state law. However, some election officials have chosen to apply unrelated standards. In the Illinois primary, one jurisdiction rejected 93 percent of the provisional ballots cast. This was clearly an act of vote suppression. Elected officials, election officials and citizens must guard against these problems if we are to ensure the fairest and most democratic election possible.
“To help correct these problems, several of my house colleagues and I have sent a letter to ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX to produce and broadcast a public service campaign telling voters what actions to take if their voting rights are violated. I am hopeful that the broadcasters will respond positively to this suggestion."
To read the text of the letter sent to the networks please click here