Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Statement on Election Reform

Media 10.10,02

Washington, DC ? The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil rights coalition, sent the attached letter to all members of the House and Senate, providing the LCCR’s assessment of the final conference agreement on election reform legislation.

The LCCR noted that the conference report on H.R. 3295, the “Help America Vote Act of 2002,” is “is an important step forward in improving election procedures and administration throughout the nation” in a number of respects, including its establishment of nationwide election standards, provisional balloting, statewide voter registration lists, and its authorization of funding to upgrade voting technology and improve accessibility for voters with disabilities. But the letter also made clear that the LCCR could not formally endorse the bill because it contained several provisions that will undermine the ability of Americans to vote.

The provisions that prevented the LCCR from endorsing the bill were:

  • An intrusive, error-prone requirement that would require information provided by some voters to be checked against wildly inaccurate Social Security Administration databases;

  • The failure of the conference report to require states to implement statewide voter registration lists at the same time that new burdensome ID requirements were imposed on new voters; and

  • An unnecessary citizenship “check-off box” that will lead to the rejection of voter registration applications based on a mere technicality.

“Given the fact that millions of American citizens were denied their basic right to cast a vote and to have that vote counted in the 2000 election, the enactment of meaningful election reform has been the Leadership Conference’s highest legislative priority,” LCCR Chairperson Dorothy I. Height and Executive Director Wade Henderson wrote. While the LCCR applauded the efforts of Senators Christopher Dodd, Richard Durbin, Charles Schumer as well as Representatives Bob Ney, Steny Hoyer, John Conyers, Charlie Gonzalez and many other Members of Congress who led the effort to produce meaningful election reform, the remaining concerns with the bill ultimately prevented the LCCR from urging Congress to support the final package.