There is no more fundamental American right than the right to vote. Before the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act, barriers such as literacy tests, poll taxes and property requirements disenfranchised many Americans, especially minorities. More than 40 years later, there are still numerous obstacles to ensuring that every citizen has the ability to vote. A recent study discovered numerous organized efforts to intimidate and mislead voters and suppress voter turnout in minority communities.
Few states have enacted clear and effective prohibitions against these abuses. Senator Obama introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act to enable investigations into deceptive practices. It establishes significant harsh penalties for those who have engaged in fraud and it provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote. Senator Obama also worked with civil rights leaders in the House of Representatives to help secure the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act.
"For too long, we have seen the rights of voters diluted and obstructed through deceptive, and often discriminatory, practices. The Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act is an important and powerful step towards guaranteeing that every citizen has the right to fully and effectively participate in our democracy."
-Barbara R. Arnwine, Executive Director, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
"I applaud Senator Obama for his leadership with the introduction of this sorely needed bill ... Senator Obama's Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act is an important step in the right direction ... I hope that all Senators will recognize, as Senator Obama has, the crucial need for reforms to ensure that every American's right to vote is protected."
-Ralph G. Neas, President, People For the American Way