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Public Statements

Statements On Introduced Bills And Joint Resolutions

Location: Washington, DC



By Mr. OBAMA (for himself, Mr. Schumer, Mr. Leahy, Mr. Cardin, Mr. Feingold, Mr. Kerry, Mrs. Feinstein, Mrs. Clinton, Mrs. Boxer, and Mr. Kennedy):

S. 453. A bill to prohibit deceptive practices in Federal elections; to the Committee on the Judiciary.

Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I am pleased to introduce a bill today that seeks to address the all-too-common efforts to deceive voters in order to keep them away from the polls.

It's hard to imagine that we even need a bill like this. But, unfortunately, there are people who will stop at nothing to try to deceive voters and keep them away from the polls. What's worse, these practices often target and exploit vulnerable populations, such as minorities, the disabled, or the poor.

We saw countless examples in this past election. Some of us remember the thousands of Latino voters in Orange County, California, who received letters warning them in Spanish that, ``if you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that can result in incarceration.'

Or the voters in Maryland who received a ``democratic sample ballot' featuring a Republican candidate for Governor and a Republican candidate for U.S. Senator.

Or the voters in Virginia who received calls from a so-called ``Virginia Elections Commission' informing them--falsely--that they were ineligible to vote.

Or the voters who were told that they couldn't vote if they had family members who had been convicted of a crime.

Of course, these so-called warnings have no basis in fact, and are made with only one goal in mind--to keep Americans away from the polls. We see these problems year after year and election and after election, and my hope is that this bill will finally stop these practices in time for the next election.

That is why I am reintroducing the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act. It's a bill that makes voter intimidation and deception punishable by law, and it contains strong penalties so that people who commit these crimes suffer more than just a slap on the wrist. The bill also seeks to address the real harm of these crimes--people who are prevented from voting by misinformation--by establishing a process for reaching out to these misinformed voters with accurate information so they can cast their votes in time.

Senator Schumer has joined me in introducing this legislation, and we are joined by our colleagues, Senator Patrick Leahy, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and Senators Cardin, Feingold, Kerry, Feinstein and Clinton as original co-sponsors to this bill.

There are some issues in this country that are inherently difficult and political. Making sure that every American can cast a ballot shouldn't be one of them. There is no place for politics in this debate--no room for those who feel that they can gain a partisan advantage by keeping people away from the polls. It's time to get this done in a bipartisan fashion, and I believe this bill can make it happen.

I ask unanimous consent that a New York Times editorial from January 31, 2007, be printed in the Record.

There being no objection, the editorial was ordered to be printed in the Record


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