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Public Statements

MSNBC "The Ed Show" - Transcript

Interview

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I want to start --

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Thank you.

SCHULTZ: You bet.

I want to start with this group, True the Vote. What is this group doing? What are you concerned about?

BOXER: I am very concerned. All you have to do is just read that "L.A. Times" story and it will show you cases and point.

For example, a woman who is recovering for breast cancer gets a letter from the county clerk saying your right to vote has been challenged because of your residence. This woman has lived in this residence for seven years.

An African-American family of eight gets the same kind of letter.

Your right to vote has been challenged and -- because you live on an empty lot. There is the woman sitting with her family in front of her home.

And this is going on. And those stories just touch me and we felt even though I have been watching this. I know -- you are right. Everyone is paying attention. I know the Obama campaign is ready to act on this, but I realize that there two important federal laws that -- the Voting Rights Act passed in the `60s, the Voter Registration Act passed in the `90s, that have criminal and civil penalties where people who try to intimidate a voter.

And I wanted to make sure that the Justice Department is moving on these cases. So, I did hear from them today and although they can`t confirm or deny any particular case because I wrote about Ohio, they did say that they had opened up 42 investigations this year, which is good to know.

SCHULTZ: OK. Are these new investigations, Senator, or will there be more investigations?

BOXER: This year.

Well, here`s what they say. This is very important. Thank you for pressing me on that. They said 42 investigations are open just this year and they had many more in 2011. Meaning, they are pursuing and enforcing these laws.

They said that I could say that anyone within the sound of my voice or your voice, anyone in this country that feels they are being intimidated can call the nearest FBI office because it is a federal offense to harass someone, to intimidate someone.

Think about all the people that worked so hard and struggle and went to prison and put their life on the line for their right to vote.

SCHULTZ: Senator --

BOXER: And, you know, we weren`t born yesterday. We know what`s happening here.

SCHULTZ: No question about it.

I want you to respond to that videotape that we just played from Denver FOX affiliate -- someone admitting on tape that they`re working for the county office and they`re out registering Republicans. What do you make of that?

BOXER: Well, that`s against the law. Any type of non-traffic voter registration, you have to register everybody. I used to do that in my younger years. I go out with my registration forms and say, would you like to register? The person comes up, you don`t know if they`re going to register Democratic, Republican, independent or any other party. You just register them.

SCHULTZ: Yes.

BOXER: And you`re told it`s against the law.

We need some enforcement, visible enforcement. And I hope people understand who are watching this perhaps --

SCHULTZ: All right.

BOXER: -- that if you are trying to intimidate a voter, that`s against the law. That`s unpatriotic. You need to stop because -- you know, you can`t do it.

I want to mention one more thing. In 24 states, Ed, on Election Day at the polls, did you know that 24 states allow a voter to be challenged on Election Day for no reason? They just walk off, let`s say you`re voting --SCHULTZ: Just to disenfranchise people, yes.

BOXER: And just say I believe that person has no right to vote and guess what? If the person doesn`t have two forms of idea or doesn`t know the election officer, they are not going to be able to vote that day.

SCHULTZ: Senator --

BOXER: Maybe they can cast a provisional ballot. Yes.

SCHULTZ: I appreciate you being on this story and joining us tonight. There`s nothing bigger on this country right now than this story.

Senator Barbara Boxer of California with us tonight.

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