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Letter to Representative Cleaver Supporting his EASY Voting Act

May 21, 2012

Dear Representative Cleaver: 

On behalf of the more than three million members of the National Education Association (NEA), we would like to express our support for the Equal Access to Support Youth Voting (EASY Voting) Act (H.R. 3978).   

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 including proposals to require photo identification and change student voting requirements. 

We strongly agree with you that students should be encouraged to vote, not misled, confused, or outright barred from voting.   Students must have access to the electorate and be able to easily exercise their civic duty and make their voices heard.  We support your proposal to allow a student to vote in a federal election using their current student photo identification.   This provision is necessary, as nearly 20 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 24 do not have current government issued photo identification and would be ineligible to vote under many state initiatives.  We also support your proposal to make it a federal crime for any individual to purposely discourage a student from voting by providing false or misleading information.  

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