Democratic Members of Congress Introduce America Votes Act of 2012 to Combat Voter Suppression Efforts
Washington, DC, September 18, 2012
Fifteen members of Congress, led by Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, have introduced a bill to combat voter suppression efforts across the country. The America Votes Act of 2012, H.R. 6419, will allow voters to sign an affidavit attesting to their identity if they do not have the identification documents required at their polling place. A fact sheet on the bill is available here.
The bill is cosponsored by Larsen and Reps. Mike Honda (CA-15), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-05), Gwen Moore (WI-04), G.K. Butterfield (NC-01), James Moran (VA-08), Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), Gregory Meeks (NY-06), Xavier Becerra (CA-31), Donna Edwards (MD-04), Bob Filner (CA-51), Elijah Cummings (MD-07), John Lewis (GA-05), Hansen Clarke (MI-13) and Sam Farr (CA-17).
“The America Votes Act of 2012 is a commonsense bill that protects the ability of American citizens to exercise their democratic right to vote,” said Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02. “There are more recorded instances of exploding toilets and shark attacks than there are of in-person voting fraud. The story of our nation is one of extending the right to vote irrespective of race or gender. We must not allow the United States to move backward to our dark history of voter intimidation and suppression.”
In the past two years, 11 state legislatures have passed new voter ID laws or measures to enhance existing laws. As many as one in four African-American voters, more than one in six Hispanic voters, and about one in ten eligible voters overall do not possess a current and valid government-issued photo ID. Several independent analyses of elections have shown that in-person voter fraud is a nonissue.
“Efforts to deny any voter the right to cast a ballot are offensive to us all,” said Rep. Elijah Cummings, MD-07. “I am proud to join Rep. Larsen in supporting the America Votes Act of 2012 to help ensure that the restrictive voter ID laws on the books in 33 states will not succeed in suppressing the votes of people of color and young students. Extensive and credible research has shown that such voter ID laws are unnecessary and place an additional burden on the elderly and poor who now have to acquire new IDs.”
“In our great democracy, there is nothing more sacred than a citizen’s right to make their voice heard at the ballot box, and we are all committed to protecting the integrity of the electoral process,” said Rep. Mike Honda, CA-15, Chair Emeritus of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. “Unfortunately, despite the Republican Party’s Constitution-centric platform, Republicans across the nation are introducing Voter ID Laws that are prohibiting access to the ballot for minorities, the elderly and young people who have been, and continue to be, historically disenfranchised. Voter ID laws far too often stem from xenophobia and it is estimated that 5 million eligible voters will be needlessly disenfranchised this election season. The America Votes Act is a pragmatic solution that creates a more inclusive process by allowing citizens to sign a legally binding affidavit that upholds process of voting, while allowing eligible citizens to vote without having an ID on hand. We must not turn voters away from the polls because of what they look like or where they come from or what language they speak, and we must not restrict individuals from access to our democracy. I hope our Republican colleagues will join us in this effort.”
“Given the lack of evidence of voter fraud in our nation, it is clear the recent crop of voter ID laws does more to suppress the rights of voters than to truly safeguard our voting system,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II. “For this reason, I am proud to cosponsor the America Votes Act of 2012, which will protect the fundamental freedom to vote where it has been put in jeopardy.”
“The right to vote is a bedrock of who we are as Americans,” said Rep. Allyson Schwartz, PA-13. “As more and more states put up needless and harmful roadblocks to voting, we have a responsibility to ensure there is a process in place to make sure that every eligible voter can have their say at the polls.”
“The America Votes Act of 2012 is sensible and timely legislation that combats voter suppression efforts seen in states across the country, and ensures the integrity of our elections process,” said Rep. Donna Edwards, MD-04. “I am proud to join Congressman Larsen in this effort as it is imperative that we protect one of our most fundamental, constitutional rights – the right to vote. I hope our Republican colleagues recognize that this bill offers an opportunity to protect our elections without prohibiting access to voters at the ballot box.”
“Congress must take immediate action to protect Americans’ ability to exercise their right to vote,” said Rep. Hansen Clarke, MI-13. “The American people fought hard for the right to vote and won it through a strong and unwavering commitment to justice. The America Votes Act of 2012 is a commonsense measure to preserve one of our most fundamental rights, and I am proud to support it.”