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ACLU Commends 2008 Election Oversight Hearing

ACLU Commends House Oversight Hearing on Department of Justice’s Plan for 2008 Election

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Washington, DC – Today the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee and the Elections Subcommittee of the House Administration Committee are scheduled to hold a joint hearing, entitled “Federal, State and Local Efforts to Prepare for the 2008 Election.” As part of this hearing, Grace Chung Becker, Acting Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice, will testify. Recently, Attorney General Mukasey told voting rights advocates that there was no greater priority in the next two months for DOJ than to ensure a smooth election in November. To keep this promise and to protect the fundamental right to vote, DOJ must be prepared prior to Election Day with a comprehensive plan. The ACLU, therefore, applauds this congressional oversight of DOJ’s preparations for the 2008 elections.

The following can be attributed to Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel:

“Today’s hearing is critical to restoring public confidence in the 2008 election. In recent years, the Department of Justice has shifted the focus of the Voting Section from its traditional role of protecting the voting rights of minorities to partisan enforcement of election laws. As examples of this change, this administration has litigated on behalf of white voters in Noxubee, Mississippi, deemphasized minority voter suppression and dilution cases, and supported restrictive voter ID laws, which disproportionately impact minority, elderly, and low-income voters. In addition, the 2004 election raised problems unchecked by federal election officials, such as improper voter purges and misuse of provisional ballots.

“Members of Congress should question the Department of Justice about reports that it has selectively enforced our nation’s voting rights laws and placed undue focus on questionable allegations of voter fraud. In this ground-breaking election, the Voting Section should return to its historic role of expanding access to the polls for all voters regardless of race, national origin, language proficiency or disability. Our democracy depends on the broadest possible base of voter participation.”

ENDS

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