Will the USA Become a Democracy?
Election Reform versus Vote Fraud
After the huge vote fraud scandals of the 2000 election, what has changed? Very little, says the American Civil Liberties Union. The corruption that ruined our 2000 election is likely to repeat unless serious pro-democracy reforms are made. Here is the ACLU's latest view.
ACLU Says Flawed Provisions in Election Reform Legislation Threaten to Turn Good Measure into Significant Step BackwardWhile applauding the spirit of a "major" election reform bill in the Senate, the American Civil Liberties Union today objected to a number of flawed provisions in the legislation, saying they turn a good bill into legislation that would represent a significant step backward for voting rights in America if passed.
"The problem provisions in the new compromise Senate bill would erect new barriers to voting and have a chilling effect on voter participation," said LaShawn Warren, an ACLU Legislative Counsel. "The spirit of the bill is a good one - election reform is the paramount civil rights concern today. Certain flawed components, unfortunately, would make this bill a non-starter in solving our problems."
The bill, entitled the Equal Protection of Voting Act of 2001 (S. 565), is a bipartisan compromise version of previous election reform legislation and is being considered on the Senate floor. Primary sponsors include Sens. Kit Bond (R-MO), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Charles Schumer (D-NY).
For example, the ACLU objects strenuously to a section in the bill that would require first time voters who register by mail to produce photo identification. Requiring the use of photographic identification and/or other documents as a pre-condition for voting would have a disparate impact on voters with disabilities, African-Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans. Further, such a provision would disproportionately impact out-of-state students, many of whom are new residents in the area where they attend school and homeless men and women who have neither the means to acquire photo ID nor a local address.
The ACLU also said it was concerned with the so-called "safe harbor" provision in the bill. While S. 565 explicitly requires states to comply with its reforms by 2006, it prohibits the Department of Justice - the agency responsible for enforcing compliance - from bringing civil litigation against any non-compliant state until 2010, a measure that the ACLU says effectively makes the deadline for compliance meaningless.
"It is essential that something be done to reform our broken electoral system before the fast approaching 2002 elections suffer from the same flaws that were so glaringly highlighted in the 2000 elections," Warren said. "This bill without corrective amendments, unfortunately, is not the answer."
What is your opinion on election reform for the USA? Do we have to settle for wimpy legislation that does nothing? In a democracy, every vote must count. How can citizens best promote democracy? Tell your views to The Progress Report:
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