Millions faced unacceptable hurdles to voting in 2008

Millions of voters in 2008 faced unacceptable and unnecessary barriers to voting, and Congress should move quickly to fix the problems it can, Common Cause Vice President Tova Wang testified Thursday before Congress.

“Voting rights organizations, elections administrators and citizens worked hard together in unprecedented ways before Election Day, and as result, many Americans were able to easily and effectively cast their ballots,” Wang told a House Judiciary panel considering lessons learned from 2008.

“But millions also faced barriers that included registration problems, extraordinarily long lines that likely led to disenfranchisement, deceptive practices designed to suppress voting, challenges meant to deter participation and problems with voter ID. This means we have more work to do.”

One area Wang highlighted was deceptive practices, misinformation campaigns designed to mislead and confuse voters about whether they can vote and how, when and where to vote. As in past years, Common Cause learned of robocalls, emails and text messages urging people in some states to go to vote on the wrong day. Such an email went to the entire student body of George Mason University in Virginia that appeared to be from the provost of the school.

Currently, the Department of Justice does not believe there is a federal statute that explicitly criminalizes this activity, and Wang urged Congress to pass the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Act that would make illegal spreading this kind of false information.

“There must be reform at the federal and state level that not only criminalizes deceptive practices, but puts in place a mandatory procedure for law enforcement and election officials working with community and voting rights organization to debunk the false information and disseminate the correct information rapidly,” Wang said.

Click here to read Wang’s testimony before the US House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.