|Hoyer Urges Secretaries of State to Oppose Measures That Make It Harder to Register and Vote|
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Steny H. Hoyer (MD-5) led lawmakers in sending a letter to Secretaries of State urging them to oppose new state measures adopted over the last year that would make it harder for eligible voters to register or vote. The letter was signed by 196 House Democrats
“A year from now, millions of Americans will head to the polls to exercise their most fundamental right – the right to vote. Unfortunately, in states across the country, partisan measures have been adopted that would make it more difficult for nearly five million voters, particularly the poor, young people, the elderly, and minorities, to register and vote,” said Congressman Hoyer. “Voter suppression has no place in our country. That’s why Democrats are sending a letter to Secretaries of State urging them to oppose these partisan efforts to hinder access to the ballot and urging them to work in a bipartisan way to ensure all Americans can exercise their constitutional right to be heard.”
Below is the text of the letter and the full list of Democrats signing the letter:
Dear Secretary ___________
We are writing to you to express our collective concern that the bipartisan consensus and partnership between all levels of government, which for decades has been a central principle of election administration, is deteriorating.
Beginning with the passage of the Voting Rights Act, Congress and election officials across the country have worked on a bipartisan basis to open our democracy to all our citizens. Removing unnecessary barriers to voting was a cause shared across party lines. Sometimes, these efforts were directed at laws and practices that were intentionally created to deny citizens their right to vote. Other times, the laws or practices were relics of a prior era and served no continuing purpose.
As a result of these efforts, the franchise was effectively extended to all our citizens. Age, race, disability, language and military service were no longer impediments to voting. Outdated voting equipment, inaccessible voting sites and living abroad no longer deprived individuals of their right to vote. And these changes were made while putting into place safeguards against fraud.
No progress would have been possible without bipartisan support. There was a shared view that seeking partisan advantage at the expense of fellow citizens' voting rights was fundamentally wrong. It diminished our democracy and undermined its legitimacy.
But a disturbing trend is emerging. Election legislation and administration appear to be increasingly the product of partisan plays. Election officials are seen as partisan combatants, rather than stewards of our democracy. It is critical for our democracy that this does not continue. Voting hours, voting sites, identification requirements, voter registration regulation and access to mail ballots should not be used as weapons to achieve a preferred electoral outcome.
We are asking you, as front line participants in this process, to put partisan considerations aside and serve as advocates for enfranchisement. Critical to your role is the fair presentation and evaluation of the costs and benefits associated with any proposed change in election administration. We ask that you be vigilant in protecting against fraud but equally vigilant in protecting the franchise for all our citizens. History has taught us that our democracy has suffered far more from elected officials who chose to deny some of our citizens the opportunity to vote than from any other cause. There is no greater threat to our democracy than a diminished belief that the rules are fair and fairly administered.
Whether it is an elderly woman unable to locate her birth certificate for purposes of establishing her U.S. citizenship on election day or a college student whose school-issued identification is not among the IDs deemed acceptable for voting or a disabled veteran whose local polling place has not yet been made accessible, public officials on all levels of government should be striving to facilitate their right to vote, not make it more difficult.
We stand willing and ready to work in a bipartisan manner with our Republican counterparts in the U.S. Congress, as well as with state and local officials across the country, to guarantee to every citizen the right to vote and the certainty that every citizen’s vote will be counted.
Steny Hoyer (MD-05)