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Public Statements

Right to Vote Under Attack

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BACA. I want to recognize my colleagues, Mr. Hoyer and Mr. Gonzalez, for organizing this special order hour.

The United States is the land of opportunity, and it functions on the premise that every American citizen has natural given rights outlined in our Constitution.

Maybe the most important of these rights is the right to make our voices heard in the voting booth.

Unfortunately, some states in our great nation have passed laws that actively work to suppress this sacred right.

The Republican leadership in Wisconsin, Kansas, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas have all passed measures that drastically change Voter-ID requirements.

In Wisconsin--elderly and disabled voters will no longer be able to use their Social Security identification to vote.

In Texas--student IDs will no longer be recognized at the polls.

These types of measures have the potential to impact 5 million voters in the United States.

Those impacted are most likely to be the youth, minority, elderly, disabled, and low-income voters.

Some claim that the reason for such measures is to combat ``voter fraud.'' But there is absolutely no evidence to prove this theory true.

Since October 2002--86 individuals have been convicted of federal crimes relating to election fraud, while over 196 million ballots have been cast in federal general elections.

Voter fraud is exceedingly rare, and when it does happen, it's doesn't occur at the polls through impersonation.

It happens through misinformation about polling locations, voter roll purges, or even ballot stuffing and electronic voting system manipulation.

There are 21 million Americans who do not have government-issued photo identification. They do not deserve to have their rights stripped away from them.

This number includes 18 percent of the elderly, 16 percent of Latinos, 25 percent of African American, 20 percent of young people, and 15 percent of people who earn under $35,000 yearly.

These misguided laws clearly create a disproportionate burden on racial minorities, seniors, young people, and low-wage workers.

The fees to obtain an ID can range from $20 to $100, and the costs of getting the required paperwork such as birth certificates, passports or naturalization papers can be costlier.

Many foreign-born Americans--who are legally allowed to vote--lack papers such as birth certificates required to obtain a driver's license or state ID.

These laws go against the fundamental foundations of our democracy.

They are unconstitutional and violate a citizen's right to voice their opinion through the form of a ballot.

Every citizen should easily be able to have their say in an election.

These laws are voter suppression--plan and simple--and we will no longer stand for it.

Many compare these laws to the poll taxes adopted by Southern states to discourage African-Americans from voting after the Civil War.

Have we really reverted back to this mentality?

We've made so much progress as a nation of equality for all, but these laws are making us take a step backwards.

Simply put, this is a threat to our democratic process.

Our right to vote should not be determined by any political agenda.

Many countries around the world do not have the universal right to vote as we have here.

Americans are able to speak freely, and write about their issues or concerns without fear of being reprimanded.

Politically, they voice their opinions through the vote, and stripping or limiting that natural born right is in complete violation of how I can be here today.

It is an infringement on our democracy.

I know that if we come together--we can and will do better than this.

Again--I thank Whip Hoyer and CHC Chairman Gonzalez for organizing this special order.

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