Monday, November 03, 2014

A message from American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director

by Anthony D. Romero

           We are in a race against time to make sure millions of voters aren't excluded from this fall's critical elections - and we need you immediate involvement in the ACLU's all-out effort to protect the right to vote.
Here is the situation. Aggressive backers of voter suppression measures -voter ID laws, reckless purges of
voter files, and rollbacks of access to the ballot reforms - such as same-day registration and early voting - are driving to have a heavy impact of November's elections.
           They are feeding the public a false story about non-existent voter fraud, and packaging their agenda as non-partisan measures to ensure clean elections.
            In fact, their agenda is a highly partisan and profoundly anti-democratic. In a moment of rare candor, a former state political party chair in Florida acknowledged that the only reason he and his cohorts nationwide oppose early voting is because "early voting is not good for us."
           Couple this with a Supreme Court dicision that Justice Ruth Bader ginsburg described as the "demolition" of the Voting Rights Act. The Court's decision has made it more difficult for the Justice Department to challenge otrageous attempts to deprive people of their right to vote.
            So it is no surprise that we are witnessing a dramatic state-by state escalation in voter suppression laws. The good news is that the ACLU is active responding. And recently, we won a huge victory when a state court blocked Pennsylvania's extreme voter ID law.
            But we need to keep pushing - and we urgently need your support as we defend the principle that
elections should be decided by how many votes are won, not how many votes are blocked. Please take two immediate steps to protect our nation's most vulnerable voters:
           First, sign the ACLU petition addressed to your representatives in Congress urging immediate
action to restore the full power of the Voting Rights Act.
          Then, send a generous donation of $25, $35, or $50 to support the ACLU as we use our on-the-ground presence in all 50 states to wage a series of tough, state-by-state battles to defend the right to vote.
          Make no mistake about it, the fundamental rights of millions of people all across America-
African-American, Latino, elderly, young, disabled - are on the line.
          And while the ACLU is active working in Congress to restore this fundamental protection, we also know that we must be prepared to step in to fill the void left by the Court's decision.
          That is why it is so urgent for the ACLU to immediately ramp up our already robust state-by-state
defense of voting rights - and why we need you with us today.
         With our network of lawyers and experts in every state and our years of experience in fighting for voting rights, we are ready to take on this fight - and win.
         Right now, ACLU attorneys and advocates are already working overtime in states like Pennsylvania,
North Carolina, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Virginia to stop efforts to restrict voting through Voter ID
requirements, coordinated state-by-state attempts to purge voters from the rolls, the elimination of early
voting , erecting barriers to voter registration, and more.
         We are doing this by using other parts of the Voting Rights Act, and other laws, to forge new
protections for vulnerble voters. We are using the National Voter Registration Act in new ways to fight
emerging voting hurdles. And we are making use of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act to confront voter suppression as we did successfully in Wisconsin.
         But there is also no doubt that out work is going to be much more labor intensive and expensive
now that the Supreme Court has prevented the Justice Department from stepping in with a powerful tool for challenging voting abuses.
        We need your immediate help and your generous financial support to protect people's right to vote.
And we don't have a minute to lose. Every day that passes heightens the risk that people all across
the country could find their path to the polls blocked. 
       The stakes are enormous. Left unchallenged, these laws could take the right to vote away from people
who've been voting in elections all their lives. And not just a handful of people - we're talking about
thousands upon thousands of citizens in state after state. 
       Every single person who loses the right to vote takes our nation a giant step backwards. That is
something we cannot allow to happen, especially at a time when we need more participation in our
democracy, not less.
       North Carolina is a dramatic example of exactly what is at stake. We're challenging an especially
egregious voter suppression law that could imperil the votes of nearly 900,000 North Carolinians - over a third of them African American. Among other provisions, the new law eliminates a week of early voting
when data clearly demonstrates that more than 70 percent of African-American voters used early voting during the 2008 and 2012 general elections. But these insidious measures are not limited to just a few states.
       Our voting rights attorneys are working right now to take on the new and rapidly spreading "voter purge machine" being pushed by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach: 22 states have signed on for this highly questionable scheme that operates in secret and purports to remove voters registered in more that one state.     We have reason to believe that the system will flag a voter for removal if the first name, last name and date of birth of a voter in one state matches that of a registrant in another - even if other identifying information, such as middle name or social security number do NOT match.
    With you active support, the ACLE's Let People Vote! campaign will:
           *Use our on-the-ground presence in all 50 states to wage vigorous campaigns to stop state
             legislatures from passing laws restricting voter rights.
           *Mobilize people all across America to demand that Congress act to restore the full power
             of the Voting rights Act.
           * Go to court to challenge block-the-vote laws that have already been enacted whenever and
              wherever those laws throw unreasonable barriers in people' path to the polls.
           * Launch a massive voter education campaign to help ensure that all voters are aware of their rights.
  No one has the right to rob people of their voice in electing our country's leaders. That is what is so dangerous about the relentless efforts unfolding across the country to block the vote. And that is what is so outrageous about the supreme Court's decision to take the teeth out of the Voting Rights Act.
            If you share our outrage, now is the time for you to act. Stand with the ACLU by taking the two
critical steps I've outlined. 


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