Cease Planned Voter Challenge Activities for Nov. 2 Election

Media 10.20,04

Recipient: RNC and DNC Chairmen

Chairman Terry McAuliffe
Democratic National Committee
430 South Capitol Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Chairman Ed Gillespie
Republican National Committee
310 First Street, SE
Washington, D.C. 20003

Dear Chairmen Gillespie and McAuliffe:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, I write to express my deep concern about recent reports that partisan entities, including the Republican and Democratic Parties, plan to conduct aggressive challenges to voters at the polls during the November 2nd general election that are likely to impact minority voters more harshly than non-minority voters. I urgently request an immediate meeting with you to discuss this threat to the integrity of the upcoming election.

Since its founding in 1950, LCCR has provided steadfast support for the voting rights of all Americans, particularly those racial and ethnic groups that have historically suffered, and continue to suffer, discrimination and exclusion. LCCR led the struggle to convince Congress to enact the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the successful efforts in 1982 and 1992 to strengthen and ensure the continued vitality of the Act.

The issue of the parties’ role in possible voter intimidation was highlighted in a report in last week’s Akron Beacon Journal which stated that the Republican and Democratic parties plan to invoke a “little-used 1953 state law to put challengers at the polls – a move that could create additional mayhem on November 2.” Lisa A. Abraham, “Ohio Parties May Object to Some Voters”, Akron Beacon Journal
(Oct. 13, 2004).

Last month, Michigan state representative and Bush-Cheney campaign official John Papageorge was quoted as saying that the GOP would fare poorly in that state “if we do not suppress the Detroit vote.”

In light of the widespread disenfranchisement of minority voters in 2000, it is more important than ever that this November’s election proceed smoothly and equitably. The insertion of large numbers of partisan challengers into an electoral mix that already includes new identification and provisional ballot procedures threatens to create chaotic conditions that will again disenfranchise large numbers of eligible minority voters.

LCCR believes that it is the responsibility of non-partisan, governmental election officials to ensure that all eligible voters are permitted to vote and that any ineligible person who attempts to vote is thwarted in that effort. We have great confidence that our governmental election officials can, if spared the interference of partisan operatives, ensure a fair and honest election. We therefore call on the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, and all other partisan organizations to cease and desist from poll challenge activity that threatens to disenfranchise minority voters who are fully eligible to cast a ballot and have it counted.

Thank you for your time and attention to this important matter. I look forward to meeting with you soon.


Wade Henderson
Executive Director