Press release

House Members To Call on DOJ to Investigate Voter ID Measures in States; Voting Rights Group Applauds Effort

For Immediate Release
July 13, 2011

Alex Amend, aamend@demos.org, 212.389.1411
Anna Pycior, apycior@demos.org, 914.330.1103

House Members To Call on DOJ to Investigate Voter ID Measures in States; Voting Rights Group Applauds Effort
7/13 Press Conference Hosted by Rep. Fudge to Discuss

WASHINGTON DC – This week, Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (D-OH) and several House members are drawing attention to the proliferation of voter identification legislation and other vote suppressing measures across the US. Rep. Fudge and other members of the House have signed a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder urging the Department of Justice to investigate whether photo ID laws violate the Voting Rights Act, which will also be a topic of discussion on the floor of the House this Thursday evening in a special discussion proposed by Rep. Fudge.  Miles Rapoport, president of the non-partisan policy organization Demos and former Connecticut Secretary of State, issued the following statement today in support of these efforts:

"Strong voter participation and engagement are fundamental to a healthy democracy. Despite this, many states are intensely focused on restricting, rather than expanding the franchise. Studies have shown that 11 percent of eligible voters, more than 20 million Americans, do not have a government-issued ID.  This percentage is even higher for seniors, racial minorities, low-income voters and students. Young people, African Americans and Latinos turned out to vote in historic numbers in the last presidential election.

"The record is clear that these restrictive photo identification serve no legitimate purpose. While proponents cite the need to guard against voter fraud, numerous recent investigations and studies have found zero evidence of substantial voter fraud of the kind voter ID laws would protect against -- voter impersonation.

"In a June 29 letter to Attorney General Eric Holder, 16 Senators submitted a letter requesting that the DOJ examine Voter ID requirements to ensure that the laws do not violate the Voting Rights Act, particularly in jurisdictions covered by Section 5. These states and localities with a history of past discrimination must show that any proposed election change does not adversely affect the voting rights of minority voters before they can be implemented. Congresswoman Fudge is preparing her own letter to the DOJ along these same lines.

"Demos remains at the fore of this issue, fighting these developments in the states, publishing comprehensive reports on the negative impact of voter identification laws nationally, and in states like Kansas, Missouri, and Wisconsin, and providing other research and tools to state groups battling these laws"

"Demos strongly supports Congresswoman Fudge and encourages her and other legislators to stand firmly against attacks on voting rights."

Demos is one of the nation's premier research and advocacy centers on issues of voting rights and election integrity. For more reports and findings on voter identification laws and other voting rights issues, visit www.demos.org. To schedule an interview, see contact information.

House members signed on to Rep. Fudge's forthcoming letter to the DOJ include: Rep. Jose E. Serrano (D-NY), Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA), Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC), Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA), Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO), Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rep. GK Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN), Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-IL), Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver (D-MO).

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