Rep. John Lewis joins Rep. Tubbs-Jones and Senator Clinton to Sponsor Comprehensive Voting Reform
"We have come a great distance, but we still live in an America where some votes are not counted, even when people struggle and make the effort to get to the polls. That's not right, that's not fair, and it's not in keeping with the spirit of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and the people must have faith and confidence that all their votes will be counted.
"We need this comprehensive reform of our political process, and I am glad to lend my support to the Count Every Vote Act, to help create more free, more fair, more just elections in our country. Thank you."
The Count Every Vote Act will:
- provide a voter verified paper record for every vote cast in electronic voting machines;
- ensure access to voter verification for all citizens, including language minority voters, illiterate voters and voters with disabilities;
- mandate that the paper record be the official ballot for purposes of a recount;
- set a uniform standard for provisional ballots so that every qualified voter will know their votes are treated equally;
- require the Federal Election Assistance Commission to issue standards that ensure uniform access to voting machines and trained election personnel in every community;
- improve security measures for electronic voting machines;
- require states to work to reduce wait times for voters at polling places;
- designate Election Day a federal holiday and requires early voting in each state in order to encourage more citizens to exercise their right to vote;
- enact "no-excuse" absentee balloting;
- enact fair and uniform voter registration and identification;
- require states to allow citizens to register to vote on Election Day;
- restore voting rights for ex-offenders who have repaid their debt to society;
- protect voters from the conflicts of interest and deceptive practices that lead to the disenfranchisement and harm voter trust in the integrity of the system;
- prohibit chief state election officials as well as owners and executives of voting machine manufacturers from serving in any position on the political campaign committee of a candidate or engaging in other kinds of partisan campaign activities;
- make it a federal crime to commit deceptive practices, such as sending flyers into minority neighborhoods telling voters the wrong voting date, and make these practices a felony punishable by up to five years of imprisonment.
The legislation is supported by People For the American Way, Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, the NAACP, Common Cause, U.S. PIRG and the Brennan Center for Justice. At today's press conference, representatives from voting rights organizations emphasized the urgent need to pass the Count Every Vote Act.