Common Cause releases statement on introduction of the Caging Prohibition Act

Contact: Tova Wang

Common Cause supports the Caging Prohibition Act, which would prohibit challenges to a person’s eligibility to register or vote based solely on returned mail, foreclosure status or a caging list, and mandates that anyone who challenges another person’s right to vote must set forth the specific grounds for their alleged ineligibility, with a description of the evidence supporting the belief the person is not eligible, under penalty of perjury.

“In almost every federal election over the last five decades, partisan actors have used flawed and at times racially targeted lists to challenge the eligibility of Americans to vote with very few constraints on their ability to do so,” said Common Cause Vice President Tova Wang. “The need for passage of Senator Whitehouse’s Caging Prohibition Act is critical to ensuring fair elections in which all voters are able to vote free from harassment and intimidation.”

Even at those times when caging lists are not actually used at the polls on Election Day, every election the specter of being challenged when going to cast a vote is raised as means of deterring eligible voters from turning out. This happened on a wide scale in the 2004 presidential election, and again in 2008. The Montana Republican Party challenged the eligibility of 6,000 registered voters in six historically Democratic counties. Only a lawsuit by the state Democratic Party later forced the Republicans to shut the operation down. Early on in the election season, state Republican officials were reportedly planning on using lists of people whose homes had been foreclosed as a basis for mounting challenges to their right to vote at the polls. In Michigan, this led to the Democratic Party suing for an injunction prohibiting challenges on the basis of being in foreclosure. In Ohio and other states, election administrators had to send out directives and statements that foreclosure was not a legitimate basis for a challenge.

Common Cause strongly supports this measure and calls upon the Congress to pass it and the President to sign well in advance of the next elections.