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Press release/statement

STATEMENT: National Voting Rights Group Denounces Police Report's Attacks on Wisconsin Voter Registration Law

"Report from Milwaukee Police Department Investigation Unit is Misleading State on Efficacy of Election Day Registration"

New York, NY — Today, Miles Rapoport, President of Demos, issued the following statement in response to a new report on the 2004 general election, published this week by the Special Investigations Unit of the Milwaukee Police Department, and its attacks on Wisconsin's 33-year old Election Day Registration law. The report was released without the endorsement of the U.S. Attorney's Office, the FBI, the Milwaukee mayor, the Milwaukee County District Attorney, or the Milwaukee Chief of Police — members of a task force formed to investigate voting irregularities in Milwaukee in 2004. An editorial in today's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel took exception with the report's call for repeal of Election Day Registration and a strict new voter ID requirement.

"This week, a unit of the Milwaukee Police Department published a grossly flawed report on its investigation into allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities in the November 2, 2004, election in Milwaukee. The report rightly calls attention to shortcomings in election administration that year. Many of the problems appear to have been resolved by subsequent reforms undertaken by state and local officials in Wisconsin. What's deeply disturbing is that the report is loaded with gratuitous attacks against Election Day Registration and calls for strict voter identification requirements.

"Over 440,000 Wisconsin voters were able to exercise their fundamental right and responsibility as citizens in the November 2004 election because they could register and vote on Election Day. The Special Investigations Unit of the Milwaukee Police Department appears to have joined ranks with partisan opponents of Election Day Registration, who spread grossly overstated fears of voter fraud in an attempt to make registration and voting more difficult. A GOP proposal to end Election Day Registration is again moving through the Wisconsin State Assembly. Wisconsin Republicans have repeatedly tried to change Wisconsin law and require all voters to show photo identification at the polls. A 2005 report by he University of Wisconsin's Employment and Training Institute showed that a driver's license requirement could block voting by many African Americans and Latinos in Milwaukee County.

"Years of investigation by federal, state and local authorities have turned up little evidence of voter fraud in Milwaukee elections. The lack of voter fraud has been substantiated in surveys of local election officials and research by national experts. After extensive research of federal, state and local records and numerous recent elections, Barnard Professor and Demos Senior Fellow Lorraine Minnite has found little evidence of voter impersonation and double voting at the polls, allegations of which were unduly emphasized in this report. She testified on the rarity of voter fraud before a congressional committee on Tuesday of this week.

"Election Day Registration has proven again and again to work in the voters' interests, without undermining the integrity of the vote or upending the proper administration of elections. Three states have enacted Same Day Registration in recent years; legislation is pending in many others. In Wisconsin and other states where EDR has been law for decades, voter turnout is typically up 10 to 12 percentage points over other states. Wisconsin's legislature should call for scrutiny of these efforts to strip Wisconsinites of their voting rights, and work to reform ongoing problems with election administration while maintaining the high levels of participation in the state's democracy through Election Day Registration."

Rapoport, who previously served as Secretary of the State of Connecticut and in the Connecticut state legislature, testified on Election Day Registration before the House Subcommittee for Elections on November 2007. On February 26, 2008, Demos Senior Fellow Loraine Minnite testified on voter fraud allegations before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties.