Open Letter Regarding Election Reform
February 1, 2005
As 109th Congress convenes, I write to thank you for the energy and resources you continue to commit to the pursuit of a just electoral process. Once again, I am indebted especially to the internet activists and the members of the alternative media whose enduring efforts shed light on an issue that too few in the mainstream media have been willing to discuss. There is a new fight ahead, the fight for comprehensive election reform legislation, and I write to ask for your help.
To this end, I will be pushing a package of reforms to the electoral process and machinery.
First, I am proud to introduce on Wednesday (February 2,2005), the Voting Opportunity and Technology Enhancement Rights Act as a means to comprehensive election reform on a national level. Among other things, the VOTER Act mandates clear regulations for audit capacity and periodic audits, voter verification, and the use of paper records in recounts. The legislation requires every state to establish a same day registration process, permitting any eligible citizen to register and participate in a federal election on election day.
And it calls for increased protections of your civil rights, uniform standards for absentee and provisional voting, elimination of the disparity between machine allocations between urban and suburban areas, and early voting opportunities in all fifty states. I am proud that the Senate companion to this bill has been sponsored by Senator Chris Dodd on behalf of the Senate Democratic Leadership. There is no doubt in my mind the VOTER Act represents a renewed commitment to an electoral process that is both just and crystal clear.
Second, and of equal importance to me, I will also be vigorously supporting Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s proposal for a Constitutional amendment that would guarantee every citizen the right to vote. In the past, I have been hesitant to support new amendments to the Constitution, but I am now convinced this amendment is a worthy exception.
In the infamous case Bush v. Gore, a narrow majority of reactionary Supreme Court justices declared "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States" unless that right is conferred by that citizen’s state legislature. I do not believe that such a radical interpretation of the Constitution should stand, where our most basic rights are subject to the whims and vagaries of a state legislature or reactionary judges. I will, therefore, urge this Congress to protect the enfranchisement of every citizen with the strongest means at our disposal.
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