ACLU Says President Bush, Congress Not Doing Enough To Fix Nation's Broken Election System

April 2, 2001 12:00 am

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PHILADELPHIA – Testifying here in the cradle of our democracy, the American Civil Liberties Union today said that President George W. Bush and the Republican majority in Congress are not doing enough on the urgent need for federal legislation to fix the nation’s broken election system.

“To borrow a basketball metaphor,” said Christopher E. Anders, an ACLU Legislative Counsel, “it looks like President Bush and the majority party are trying to run out the clock on election reform legislation.”

“Although the 2002 and 2004 elections may seem distant,” Anders added, “we are already very late if we want to get the reforms in place to achieve equality in the polling place.”

Anders testified here at a field hearing called by the Special Committee on Election Reform of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives. The committee was appointed by Democratic House leaders to hold hearings across the country to examine irregularities in voting processes and equipment.

In his testimony, Anders said that the ACLU has strongly endorsed legislation introduced recently by Rep. John Conyers, D-MI. The ACLU believes that the Conyers legislation represents the most complete response to widespread problems that were largely hidden until last November and that it best meets the principal goals of election reform: uniformity, accuracy and accessibility.

“In its post-election decision, the U.S. Supreme Court made clear that every vote must be given equal weight under the Constitution,” Anders told the special committee. “We believe that Congress and the President must act now – during a time of unprecedented budget surpluses – to ensure that every person has the right to vote and that every vote is counted fairly.”

Despite the urgency, Anders said that the House has not yet scheduled a single hearing on election reform and that the leadership has no timetable for addressing the issue. In addition, Anders said that President Bush did not include any funds for election reform in the budget he sent to Congress.

In addition to working for election reform in Congress, Anders told the committee that the ACLU has also already filed lawsuits in Georgia, Illinois and Florida seeking improvement in voting systems and technology.

“The right to vote is the most fundamental right we as Americans have, the mainspring from which all other rights flow,” Anders said. “The ACLU has recommitted itself to the profoundly important goal of ensuring that what happened in the 2000 election does not ever happen again and we urge Congress to do the same.”

Anders testimony can be found online at: /VotingRights/VotingRights.cfm?ID=239&c=166

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