Statement of Chellie Pingree, President of Common Cause, in support of the Count Every Vote Act of 2005

Common Cause congratulates Senators Clinton and Boxer for standing up for American voters and challenging Congress with this ambitious agenda for fixing the badly broken system of voting in our country.

The election of 2004 made it clear that we have not yet resolved the problems that came to the nation’s – and the world’s – attention in November 2000. Whatever you think of the outcome of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, it is not credible to say that everything went fine. Countless voters did not have an equal opportunity to register and vote and have their vote counted.

Just because we did not have an election decided in the courts or have a Ukrainian-style uprising does not mean we can be satisfied with how the system worked. We do not want to go through another election marked by long lines, lost registrations, lost absentee ballots, capricious decisions by partisan elections officials, and millions of voters continuing to lose confidence in this most basic right of our democracy.

Common Cause and other nonprofits have gathered a mountain of information through our phone hotlines about what went wrong on and before Election Day. Those calls told us that there is a need for the reforms contained in this legislation, including a provision that will require elections agencies to gather data themselves, something now too often left to outside groups.

This legislation is a challenge to all of us. Just as we know that enacting this bill into law is essential to our democracy, we also know it will be an uphill battle with resistance from many quarters: those incumbent officials who do not want to enfranchise too many new voters, those elections officials who deny their responsibility for this broken system and resist change, those who tell us that preventing fraud is a more important goal than ensuring that all Americans can exercise their right to vote, and those who are happy with the election results and want to avoid admitting that problems exist.

Both Republicans and Democrats should embrace these reforms – it should be the most nonpartisan of issues: Help America Vote. Common Cause, with our hundreds of thousands of members from coast to coast, will work hard to support the reform measures contained in this bill. We welcome the opportunity to champion such a comprehensive approach to the most basic building blocks of democracy, voting and elections.