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Letter to Steny Hoyer in support of the Voter Empowerment Act

May 21, 2012

Dear Representative Hoyer: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our support for the Voter Empowerment Act.   

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 support provisions in the Voter Empowerment Act that would open access to the ballot box through system modernization and simplification, ensure the integrity of the voting process, and protecting accountability of results. Your proposals -- including same-day registration, alleviating burdens for people with disabilities, training for poll workers, protections against deceptive practices and intimidation and establishment of a national voter hotline on voting related issues — are all critical to ensure that every citizen is able to exercise his or her constitutional right to vote. 

NEA is working aggressively 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. 

Sincerely, 

Kim Anderson 
Director, Center for Advocacy

Mary Kusler
Director of Government Relations