ACLU Condemns Representative Westmoreland’s Attempts to Weaken Voting Rights Act, Representative Westmoreland Misrepresents ACLU Report to Suggest Georgia’s Voting Problems are a Thing of the Past

July 13, 2006 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The ACLU today had strong words for Representative Westmoreland, the Georgia Republican who has lobbied tirelessly for the dilution of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act (VRA), that requires jurisdictions with significant histories of discrimination to get federal approval of any new voting practices or procedures. Throughout discussions of the VRA, Representative Westmoreland continues to refer to the work of the ACLU as merely documenting “alleged voting problems” in his state, despite both recent and numerous court findings of discrimination against Georgia.

“Representative Westmoreland has mischaracterized the report of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project – an 800-plus page report summarizing its voting rights litigation docket of almost 300 cases from 1982-2004,” said Caroline Fredrickson, Director, ACLU Washington Legislative Office. “Despite his assertions to the contrary, Georgia’s abysmal record of protecting the rights of its minority citizens provides undeniable evidence underscoring the need to continue the vital protections of the VRA in Georgia. It is disingenuous, at best, to say that the documented abuses in Georgia are merely ‘alleged voting problems.’”

Since the VRA was last reauthorized in 1982, the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project (VRP) has brought more litigation to enforce voting rights in Georgia than in any other state. From 1982 to 2005, the ACLU initiated a total of 141 voting rights lawsuits in Georgia, a substantial portion of which were brought under Section 5. Moreover, more than 70% of the total lawsuits filed by the VRP offer concrete evidence and court findings of the continued efforts by Georgia officials to discriminate against minority voters. In all of these instances, Georgia had to change its conduct with respect to its minority voters.

“As documented in our report, Georgia is only one of many examples of states that continue to discriminate against its citizens. The facts show that the expiring provisions are still very much needed today. Members of Congress should not be fooled by the misuse of the ACLU’s litigation record. We urge the House of Representatives to reauthorize the expiring provisions of the Voting Rights Act, without amendment and without delay,” said Fredrickson. “This Voting Rights Act has had strong bipartisan support throughout its history. Congress must not allow a small group of dissenters to weaken an Act that has protected voting rights for millions of Americans.”

To read the ACLU’s letter to Congress on Representative Westmoreland and Section 5, go to:

To read more about the ACLU’s campaign to renew the Voting Rights Act, go to:

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