Letter to Senator Cardin Supporting his Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act
January 13, 2012
Dear Senator Cardin:
On behalf of the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our support for the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act (S. 1994).
NEA believes the right to vote, and to have one’s vote counted, is the most basic tenet of a democratic society. The Voting Rights Act (VRA)—our nation’s most successful civil rights law—has had remarkable success in ensuring access to the voting booth. Congress enacted it in response to persistent and purposeful discrimination through literacy tests, poll taxes, intimidation, threats, and violence. The VRA has enfranchised millions of racial, ethnic, and language minority citizens by eliminating discriminatory practices and removing other barriers to their political participation.
Yet, despite the success of the VRA, it is clear that voter inequities, disparities, and obstacles still remain for far too many minority voters. Voter suppression and intimidation are still very much alive in our nation. We have seen in recent years a very troubling increase in misleading and fraudulent information about elections, voter intimidation, and robocalls designed to suppress the vote guaranteed every citizen by the U.S. Constitution. In addition, there have been an unprecedented number of anti-voter initiatives considered in state legislatures – proposals and laws enacted to require photo identification, eliminate same day registration, shrink early voting windows, change student voting requirements, and other techniques designed to make it harder for people to vote.
We strongly support your proposal to implement criminal penalties of up to $100,000 and up to five years imprisonment for those found guilty of deceptive campaign practices. These proposals will help restore the integrity of our election process and ensure that every citizen can cast their vote. We also encourage you to call for congressional hearings on the dangerous trend in states to restrict the ability to vote and to urge the Department of Justice to investigate and report on the impact of these new anti-voter laws.
NEA will be working aggressively this year to call attention to and combat initiatives and practices that deny or restrict the right to vote. We thank you for your leadership on this most important issue and look forward to working with you to ensure fair and open elections across the nation.
Director, Center for Advocacy
Director of Government Relations