ACLU Calls Ney-Hoyer Election Legislation Seriously Deficient; Urges Congress to Move Quickly to Prevent Repeat of Election Debacle

November 15, 2001 12:00 am

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WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today told Congress that the newly introduced House election reform legislation is seriously deficient and would not prevent another debacle like the 2000 presidential elections.

“Unfortunately, this bill isn’t sufficient to fix the very serious voting rights problems in America,” said LaShawn Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. “Free and equitable elections are at the very heart of our political system and a bill that allows states to opt out of crucial federal standards is not good enough.”

To ensure fair and accurate elections, the ACLU said, legislation must fully fund certain modest federal standards to guarantee uniformity in voting equipment, accessibility and accuracy in the accounting of votes. The new House bill, introduced by Reps. Bob Ney, R-OH, and Steny Hoyer, D-MD, fails that test. More promising negotiations, the ACLU said, are currently underway in the Senate between Christopher Dodd (D-CT), Christopher Bond (R-MI), Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).

The ACLU’s Warren pointed to a number of inadequacies in the Ney-Hoyer bill, including an opt-out provision that would allow any state to easily avoid complying with suggested federal standards to address the gross inconsistencies in election quality from state to state. The bill would also be entirely ineffective in addressing the serious problems facing language minorities and persons with disabilities in casting their ballots and fails to provide for much needed voter education both on how to actually vote and on the constitutional right to vote.

The ACLU did express its strong support, however, for the original Dodd-Daschle election reform bill (S 565), which would, if passed, be the most significant bolstering of American voting rights in four decades.

“Our next set of federal elections are fast approaching and promise to be some of the closest and most crucial this country has ever seen,” Warren said. “The passage of real and comprehensive election reform legislation is absolutely essential to our democracy.”

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