Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) joined 166 of his colleagues in co-sponsoring H.R. 12, the Voter Empowerment Act within the House of Representatives. The Voter Empowerment Act helps to ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter, modernizes our voter registration system to help more Americans participate, and take steps to eliminate deceptive practices and voter fraud that deter voters from casting their ballots. A companion bill has been introduced in the Senate.
"As citizens of this great country, we are entrusted with a great responsibility to exercise one of our most sacred constitutional rights, the right to choose our elected officials," said Congressman Sanford Bishop "As seen during the 2012 Presidential election, many states have enacted or proposed strict voting laws that impose unfair restrictions on eligible voters across the country. We cannot let any voter, especially students, the elderly, the disabled, minority, and low-income voters directly affected by these restrictions, be prevented from exercising their right to vote."
"The right to vote is precious, almost sacred. Too many people in this country had to give their lives to exercise a right already guaranteed them by the Constitution," said Congressman John Lewis (GA-05). "Outlawing the poll tax 49 years ago, does not mean we were finished protecting democratic freedom. New challenges to equal access still arise today. To be a credible voice for equal justice abroad, we must be watchful here at home to alleviate every historic and current impediment to the democratic process."
H.R. 12 makes certain of better access to the ballot by modernizing the voter registration system, ensuring access to online voter registration, guaranteeing military and overseas Americans' ballots are counted, allowing for same day registration, opening online voter registration access, notifying voters when changes are made, encouraging youth to become voters, assisting voters with disabilities, and restoring rehabilitated citizens' right to vote.
The Voter Empowerment Act preserves integrity in voting systems by restoring trust in elections officials, providing informed and reliable poll workers, counts all provisional ballots, prohibiting voter caging, and protecting voters from deceptive practices and intimidation. Additionally, the bill demands accountability in election administration by creating a national voter hotline, ensuring votes are counted correctly, and by reauthorizing the Election Assistance Commission. While this bill would not require states to have stronger voting rights, it provides a blueprint and suggestions for a better national system.
For more information on H.R. 12, the Voter Empowerment Act, please click here.