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Public Statements

Letter to Lamar Smith, John Conyers, Daniel E. Lungren and Robert A. Brady

Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-Miramar) sent the following letter to Chairman Lamar Smith and Ranking Member John Conyers of the House Committee on the Judiciary and Chairman Daniel E. Lungren and Ranking Member Robert A. Brady of the Committee on House Administration, expressing concerns with changes states have made to their elections laws and requesting that their Committees hold hearings to assess the impact of these changes on voter rights. Joining Hastings in sending the letter are Representatives Corrine Brown (FL-3), Ted Deutch (FL-19), Frederica Wilson (FL-17), G.K. Butterfield (NC-1), Karen Bass (CA-33), John Lewis (GA-5), Jesse L. Jackson, Jr. (IL-2), Laura Richardson (CA-37), Silvestre Reyes (TX-16), Jared Polis (CO-2), Terri A. Sewell (AL-7), Yvette D. Clarke (NY-11), Rush Holt (NJ-12), Kathy Castor (FL-11), Andre Carson (IN-7), Donna M. Christensen (VI), Charles Gonzalez (TX-20), Rubén Hinojosa (TX-15), Pete Stark (CA-13), Carolyn Maloney (NY-14), Sam Farr (CA-17), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), Barbara Lee (CA-9), Jan Schakowsky (IL-9), Michael Honda (CA-15), Hank Johnson (GA-4), Emanuel Cleaver (MO-5), Donna F. Edwards (MD-4), Keith Ellison (MN-5), Danny K. Davis (IL-7), Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-2), Al Green (TX-9), Steve Cohen (TN-9), John Garamendi (CA-10), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-34), José E. Serrano (NY-16), and Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC). (Please find below and attached a copy of the letter).

November 9, 2011

The Honorable Lamar Smith
Chairman, House Committee on the Judiciary
2138 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
Ranking Member, House Committee on the Judiciary
B-351 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Daniel E. Lungren
Chairman, Committee on House Administration
1309 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

The Honorable Robert A. Brady
Ranking Member, Committee on House Administration
1307 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515

Dear Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Conyers, Chairman Lungren and Ranking Member Brady:

We write to express our concern regarding recent actions taken by state legislatures across the nation to significantly change their states' election laws. These widespread changes have the potential to affect the upcoming 2012 elections, as well as the Constitutional rights of millions of Americans. We, therefore, request that your Committees hold hearings to assess the impact that these changes will have on states and voter rights.

As you know, the right to vote is guaranteed by the Constitution and a cornerstone of our democracy. We should be making it easier for Americans to vote, not harder. Over 30 states have enacted or attempted to enact laws that will create barriers to voting, among them: Florida's HB 1355, signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, limiting access to the polls for minorities, seniors, and college students, as well as limiting early voting days and imposing new restrictive regulations on voter registration groups; Alabama requiring proof of citizenship and government-issued photo identification in order to vote and Texas having similar voter ID requirements; Maine eliminating same-day registration; and Wisconsin requiring voters to show a government photo identification card at a polling state before they can vote.

The Voting Rights Act is the primary tool used to protect voters from these kinds of political exploitations. Designed to enforce the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the Constitution, the Act covers a vast range of activities that affect voters. According to the Supreme Court, determining whether a voting-related change is in violation of the Voting Rights Act is contingent upon whether the change "would lead to a retrogression in the position of racial minorities with respect to their effective exercise of the electoral franchise." Simply put, the aforementioned laws that have been enacted by states all across our nation seriously undermine the rights of voters.

Congress has the Constitutional authority to act to protect the rights of all voters. In the face of voter suppression laws being enacted across the nation, Congress must determine the extent of the problem and provide appropriate remedies. Despite years of progress, inequities and obstacles still remain. We must work together to strengthen our nation's democracy and ensure that the voting rights of all Americans are protected. Again, we respectfully request that the Committees hold a hearing to address this extremely important matter.

Thank you for your time and consideration. We respectfully ask that you keep us informed of our request. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

Sincerely,

___________________
Alcee L. Hastings
Member of Congress

____________________
Corrine Brown
Member of Congress

____________________
Ted Deutch
Member of Congress

____________________
Frederica Wilson
Member of Congress

____________________
G.K. Butterfield
Member of Congress

____________________
Karen Bass
Member of Congress

____________________
John Lewis
Member of Congress

____________________
Jesse L. Jackson, Jr.
Member of Congress

____________________
Laura Richardson
Member of Congress

____________________
Silvestre Reyes
Member of Congress

____________________
Jared Polis
Member of Congress

____________________
Terri A. Sewell
Member of Congress

____________________
Yvette D. Clarke
Member of Congress

____________________
Rush Holt
Member of Congress

____________________
Kathy Castor
Member of Congress

____________________
Andre Carson
Member of Congress

____________________
Donna M. Christensen
Member of Congress

____________________
Rubén Hinojosa
Member of Congress

____________________
Pete Stark
Member of Congress

____________________
Carolyn Maloney
Member of Congress

____________________
Sam Farr
Member of Congress

____________________
Eddie Bernice Johnson
Member of Congress

____________________
Barbara Lee
Member of Congress

____________________
Jan Schakowsky
Member of Congress

____________________
Michael Honda
Member of Congress

____________________
Charles Gonzalez
Member of Congress

____________________
Hank Johnson
Member of Congress

____________________
Emanuel Cleaver
Member of Congress

____________________
Donna F. Edwards
Member of Congress

____________________
Keith Ellison
Member of Congress

____________________
Danny K. Davis
Member of Congress

____________________
Sanford D. Bishop, Jr.
Member of Congress

____________________
Al Green
Member of Congress

____________________
Steve Cohen
Member of Congress

____________________
John Garamendi
Member of Congress

____________________
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Member of Congress

____________________
José E. Serrano
Member of Congress

____________________
Eleanor Holmes Norton
Member of Congress


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