Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA-02), a champion for voters rights in Pennsylvania and nationwide, today wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) calling on him to convene hearings into widespread voter suppression.
"The right to vote is fundamental. When efforts are made to suppress it or disallow it, our system of representative government is destabilized," Fattah said in his letter to Reid. "I call on you to hold a full-fledged bipartisan Senate investigation into this terrible injustice against millions of American citizens."
Fattah cited several prominent examples for the 2012 election cycle, including illegal actions such as throwing away valid Virginia registration cards to false-information mailers by Ohio election officials to restrictive Voter ID laws and proposals in Pennsylvania and other states.
"Unfortunately, these were not isolated examples. Rather, the 2012 campaign was rife with what seemed to be a well-orchestrated and coordinated campaign by various groups to curtail voting in low income and minority communities," Fattah said. "These methods have a disproportionate negative impact on voters in African-American, Hispanic, and low-income communities."
The supposed goal of many voter suppression tactics, Fattah said, is the bogus allegation of widespread "in-person voter fraud." He said experts have found only ten such cases nationwide over the last decade, "and none of these has been substantiated."
Fattah, representing parts of Philadelphia and suburban Montgomery County, has been highly critical of the new Pennsylvania Voter ID law, which was put on hold by the state Supreme Court just before the Nov. 6 election.
Here is the text of the Fattah letter:
December 13, 2012
The Honorable Harry Reid
Senate Majority Leader
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Majority Leader Reid:
As you stated in response to potential voter suppression in Arizona, "[i]n light of the Supreme Court's decision to hear challenges to the Voting Rights Act, we are reminded that the right to vote is the foundation of our democracy. That right is not secure when some votes are counted while others are suppressed or ignored." The right to vote is fundamental. When efforts are made to suppress it or disallow it, our system of representative government is destabilized. I call on you to hold a full-fledged bipartisan Senate investigation into this terrible injustice against millions of American citizens.
Too often during the 2012 election season, conflict over voting rights and voting fraud took center stage and patterns of voter suppression appeared in papers throughout the country. Examples include:
* In Florida, county officials are investigating Strategic Allied Consulting in connection with hundreds cases of suspected voter fraud;
* In Virginia, Colin Small, a Pennsylvania man who worked for PinPoint, a staffing company connected to Strategic Allied Consulting, was arrested and charged for attempting to throw away completed voter registration cards;
* Election officials in Ohio sent mailers to voters informing them that Election Day was November 8; and
* At least a dozen states - including my home state of Pennsylvania - have tried, with varying success, to impose new voter ID requirements.
Unfortunately, these were not isolated examples. Rather, the 2012 campaign was rife with what seemed to be a well-orchestrated and coordinated campaign by various groups to curtail voting in low income and minority communities.
Contemporary voter suppression tactics include restrictions on early voting, misinformation, voter purging, restrictive voter identification laws, and voter intimidation. These methods have a disproportionate negative impact on voters in African-American, Hispanic, and low-income communities. While some groups argue that laws related to voter identification have a legitimate purpose in preventing widespread voter fraud, it should be noted that experts have found only ten cases of in-person voter fraud reported over the last decade and none of these have been substantiated.
Bringing an end to voter suppression guarantees that every citizen will have the option to cast their ballot for the candidate of their choice. A Congressional investigation will go a long way toward exposing these practices and would end this shameful pattern of voter suppression. We must guarantee and protect the right of every citizen to cast a ballot for the candidates of his or her choice.
Very truly yours,
Member of Congress