Common Cause Hails Obama’s Call for Action Protecting Voting Rights

But President’s Silence on Money in Politics Disappoints, Watchdog Group Says

Common Cause on Wednesday applauded President Obama’s call for action to protect voting rights and make our elections run more smoothly.

“The state of our union is strong only if our citizens can exercise their right to vote,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “Voting should not be an endurance sport.”

Thousands of Common Cause volunteers took part in election protection efforts last November, hitting the polls to provide accurate, nonpartisan information about the voting process and countering efforts by ballot bullies to discourage or intimidate voters. The biggest problems that voters faced included extraordinarily long lines, broken and outdated voting machines, and inaccurate, incomplete registration rolls.

“We can fix this. We need to modernize our voter registration system, make early voting convenient, and ensure that all Americans have easy access to the polls,” Edgar said. “We urge Congress and the commission the President is creating to advance these critical reforms.

“As encouraging as it was to hear the President’s strong call for improvements in the mechanics of our elections and his pledge to protect and strengthen voting rights, I was profoundly disappointed that he ignored the critical need for action to control the flood of money into our elections and our political system,” Edgar added.

The 2012 election carried a $7 billion pricetag, including about $ 1 billion supplied by “Super PACs” or shadowy non-profit groups empowered by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision to spend whatever they want on political advocacy, Edgar noted. And thanks to asleep-at-the-switch regulators at the Federal Election Commission and the IRS, many of those groups were able to hide the identities of their corporate and millionaire donors, he said.

“All that money bought something – a Congress we can expect will look out for the interests of its millionaire donors rather than those of middle class wage earners and taxpayers,” Edgar said.

“We need to fix that too,” he asserted. “And doing so starts with passage of tough disclosure requirements for ALL political spending, along with a constitutional amendment permitting sensible limits on that spending. The President has promised action on these items for years; it’s past time for him to deliver.”

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