Due To Unlawful Practices In Nine States, Hundreds Of Thousands Of Voters Could Be Disenfranchised (10/9/2008)
ACLU Calls On Justice Department To Force States To Comply With Federal Laws
NEW YORK – In response to a news report showing that tens of thousands of eligible voters are being illegally removed
from voter rolls or blocked from registering to vote, the American Civil Liberties Union calls on the Department of
Justice (DOJ) to require states to comply with federal law. The New York Times reported today that election officials in
at least nine states are violating federal law by either improperly using Social Security data to screen newly
registered voters or removing thousands of voters after the federal deadline expired.
The ACLU is challenging voter suppression efforts throughout the country, including unlawful voter purges in Michigan.
"These purges are in violation of federal law, including the National Voter Registration Act, which prohibits such
purges of voters 90 days before a federal election," said Laughlin McDonald, Director of the ACLU Voting Rights Project.
"Of course states should update their voter lists with accurate information, but they should do so in a way that
complies with the law and is not driven by partisan bias and does not have an adverse impact on racial and language
minorities. Regrettably, our past and recent history is filled with examples of partisan bias driving voter purging and
vote suppression. If these practices are allowed to continue, we could see thousands of eligible voters show up on
Election Day only to find that they were removed from the rolls."
The states covered in the New York Times report are Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada,
North Carolina and Ohio.
"It is the duty of our federal government to ensure that all eligible voters have access to the voting booth and that
their voices are heard. Today's revelation that some are being denied this fundamental constitutional right is very
disturbing," said Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "The Justice Department must
prosecute these states for being overly aggressive in purging voter rolls and blocking people from registering to vote.
As we approach this groundbreaking election, it is vital that the DOJ return to its historic role of expanding access to
the polls for all voters regardless of race, national origin, language proficiency or disability. A vibrant democracy
requires the broadest possible base of voter participation."
Through a multi-pronged effort of litigation and legislative advocacy, the ACLU is on the front lines fighting assaults
on voting rights that disenfranchise voters and threaten the fairness of November's election. In addition to unlawful
purges, the ACLU is currently challenging the practice of "caging," felony disfranchisement, ballot and language access
violations and voting rights violations in Indian Country.