House Democrats push bill to expand access to ballot box
May 17th, 2012
04:24 PM ET
2 years ago

House Democrats push bill to expand access to ballot box

Washington (CNN) - Six months before a national election whose results could hinge on which party turns out more supporters, House Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday they say is needed to ensure all eligible voters have unfettered access to the ballot box.

"The vote is the soul and the heart of the democratic process, People died for the right to vote, and some of them were people I knew," Rep John Lewis, D-Georgia, a leading figure in the civil rights movement said at a Capitol Hill press conference. "I hope and pray that we will not return to the days of overt discrimination, before we decide to do something about it."

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Lewis said that three million voters were turned away at the polls in 2008. Democrats and civil rights advocates who worked on the measure over the last few months argue barriers are increasing that could disenfranchise voters across the country this November. They cited 16 states where same-day voter registration has been eliminated, rules in some states adding requirements to what kind of ID voters need to show to get a ballot and inadequate training for poll workers.

The Voter Empowerment Act would allow same day registration online, require schools that get federal funds to offer voter registration drives, and give states money to train poll workers. It also classifies voter "caging" as a felony. This is the practice of sending mail to addresses with the aim of creating a list of people whose mail is returned as a way of challenging someone's voting status or purging the rolls of names.

House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Maryland, summarized the three key aims of the bill as "access, integrity and accountability."

While several Democrats at Thursday's news conference complained new state laws changing identification rules were deliberately designed to suppress the vote, and amount to a form of a "poll tax," their bill does not address the issue. South Carolina Rep Jim Clyburn noted every voter needs to produce identification, but they decided to set that issue aside as states continue to litigate it in the courts.

Democrats are pushing for prompt action on the bill, but Rep Dan Lungren, the GOP Chairman of the House Administration Committee which oversees voting system, has not said whether the committee will take up the measure. The bills' sponsors said they want bipartisan support, but they introduced it before showing it to Republicans on the committee.

A senior Democratic aide tells CNN that the Democrats on the Administration Committee plan to send a letter urging action on the bill, attempting to apply some pressure on the Republican House to address the issue before the election.

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Filed under: Democrats • House
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    House Democrats push bill to expand access to ballot box
    ===========================================

    Why? Don' the Democrats have enough illegal aliens and dead people lined up to vote and steal the 2012 election??

    May 17, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. Obama 2012 - BEND Forward America, take another 4 long years of FAILURE

    House Democrats unveiled legislation Thursday they say is needed to ensure all eligible voters have unfettered access to the ballot box
    =====================================================================================
    Of course by 'unfettered" they mean no ID to be shown. Why? Because it will help them to vote more than once or maybe because it will save them the cost of all those phony IDs??

    May 17, 2012 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  3. ladyfon

    I'm beginning to think democratic law makers can't read. Voter ID law that Republican's tried to pass, stated that if you do claim that you cannot afford identification, it will be provided at no charge. So how would this prevent anyone from voting unless you are a fraud? If it is ok to vote without ID, then why can't you get food stamps, welfare, and obtain a job without providing one?

    May 17, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. Devon

    As the poor woman goes to the tnternet to get her original birth certificate, That LL be fifthy bucks please, But I dont have 50 bucks, As Bishop Romney Laughs at this with his Posse Rubes & Ryan & Rove, Mitt QUIT IT with lining the pockets of Jan Brewer & all the rest of the gop Governors to make it hard for the workin man & disabled to vote, not to mention the hispanics & Blacks. Heres my voter registration card, ID please , dont have one couldnt afford it, Theres the door, but I have my voter registration card, DOOR, but, Talk to the hand, Door. voting is a RIGHT, not a Privlidge. Please stop the ROMNEY RUBES RYAN ROVE voter surpression cat of 2012 in its tracks. Shame on Mr Personality!!!!!

    May 17, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. Myviewis

    Oh, here we go with Democrats making excuses, accusing everyone of wrong doing and crying alligator tears. Guess Democrats forgot all the tricks they were up to back in 2008, remember the Black Panthers intimidating voters???

    May 17, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    CNN shoul djust post this article next to the one showing that last year was the first year that less white babies were born than minority babies, so everyone can understand what is motivating the GOP/Teatrolls on this subject. Just look at the very first post. America keeps getting browner, but GOPers/Teatrolls believe "this was supposed to be a white people country," so they rationalize and confabulate and invent explanations to help them sleep at night..."oh, well, every third brown person I see is probably here illegally, especially the ones I see voting....for Dems."

    May 17, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  7. Myviewis

    So now not having money to pay for an ID is the excuse? Seriously, lots of people get their ID for FREE and you have to have an ID to get your food stamps, medicines, medical treatment, cash your welfare check or Social Security check, etc....

    May 17, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  8. Myviewis

    The only reason these ID has been turned into an excuse is so that illegal aliens can sneak in and vote and we all know most if not all of them will vote Democrat.

    May 17, 2012 04:49 pm at 4:49 pm |
  9. USA

    Take a vote..not polls

    May 17, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  10. manderson367

    Does "unfettered access" mean we have the black panthers posted outside of every polling place?

    May 17, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  11. Wes B.

    This is so not an issue for either side.

    May 17, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Guess Democrats forgot all the tricks they were up to back in 2008, remember the Black Panthers intimidating voters???"

    Actually, no, I don't. People complaining about that stupid incident at ONE polling place that was in a predominantly minority neighborhood...they were never able to produce witnesses who said they were actually intimidated. Peolpe thought it was silly nonsense. Moreover, it was clearly a unique incident involving two meatheads, not evidence of pervasive voter intimidation organized by some scaary conspiracy. No evidence exists of that for intimidation or for fraud. The only "fraud" is the complete BS peddled by people like yourself and Hans van Spakovsky to demagogue completely imaginary problems so you can enact "final solutions" to them. The bottom line: yuo people think it's fraud for minorities to be voting AT ALL.

    May 17, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  13. Bob

    Myviewis

    Oh, here we go with Democrats making excuses, accusing everyone of wrong doing and crying alligator tears. Guess Democrats forgot all the tricks they were up to back in 2008, remember the Black Panthers intimidating voters???
    -----------------------------------

    Yes, we remember the right wings MYTH about that. What is FACT, is the Repugs are supressing the vote.

    May 17, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  14. Gurgyl

    Nation needs to watch this election, Bush the thug cheated in Florida.

    May 17, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  15. Sniffit

    "The only reason these ID has been turned into an excuse is so that illegal aliens can sneak in and vote and we all know most if not all of them will vote Democrat."

    Translation: "My party has spent the past half century alienating minority voters by engaging in nonsense like the "southern strategy" and trying to convince people that most people receiving government assistance are just lazy, welfare queen minorities...even though 61% of the people receiving such assistance are white. We recognize that we're not getting the minority vote and we also recognize that the demographic make-up of the nation is rapidly changing to a minority majority. Therefore, we need to do everything we can to attenuate minorities' ability to vote. we need excuses to do that though, so let's invent baseless, unsupportable conspiracy theories about pervasive voter fraud by minorities and widespread illegal immigrant voting in exchange for pizza."

    May 17, 2012 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  16. Sniffit

    Shorter GOP/Teatrolls: "Minorities especially need Voter IDs...they all look the same to me and I can't tell them apart."

    May 17, 2012 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  17. Marie MD

    The tea tards are really the communist in this country. They want to rule over everyone from women and their personal rights to who gets to vote.
    They are a disgusting lying cheating group of losers and I hope they do lose come November. Our country has been divided by the hate and lies started by the AK bimbo and it's gotten worse thanks to the teapublikans and their spinesless weeper of the house.

    May 17, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  18. Gus

    This Great Nation will have a true Black eye if Willard Pinocchio Romney is sucessful at diminishing the American vote turnout. Its not like you can ask him though, Hes Hiding behind his Gimmie a Kiss Interview 2012 Exclusely for Gretta & Co. What a WUSS. & telling the Secret Service to protect him from the Press????? C O W A R D!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Mitt You, look real pretty in that pink skirt!!!

    May 17, 2012 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  19. Marie MD

    The more I think about it – you want to keep citizens from voting I WANT TO THE FLIP FLOPPER'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE AND HIS 2011 TAXES.
    WHAT IS TAKING SO LONG. HE IS GONIG TO HAVE TO DO IT BEFORE THE ELECTION.

    May 17, 2012 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  20. lies from the right but mostly hate

    We got rid of the indians but here come the mexicans

    May 17, 2012 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  21. jon

    200,000 illegals are registered in Florida alone, is that the kind of open access Democrats are looking for?

    May 17, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  22. Lolo

    The republicans would not have to worry about illegals or try to pass this so call voters law if they were not using them to clean their houses, take care of their children and do the menial jobs that they do not want to do and paying them peanuts. As usual they use people until they have no more use for them. Get rid of these clowns. November please hurry up and come, but then again since they keep putting their foots in their mouths it may be worth the wait. They are willing to pick a weak man for president just so that they can walk all over him, because Romney definitely has no spine.

    May 17, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  23. Myviewis

    I think CNN did a pretty good job covering the court case of the Black Panthers intimidating voters at the polling place back in 2008 and of King Samir Shabaaz thanking president Obama for dropping the charges against the Black Panthers.

    May 17, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  24. Sniffit

    "200,000 illegals are registered in Florida alone, is that the kind of open access Democrats are looking for?"

    I'm sorry, but you aren't even regurgitating the Red State article correctly. That's not what it says. Moreover, it's just more conspiracy theory nonsense from Van Spakovsky and that Bill Hemmer robot from Faux Noise.

    May 17, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. Minx

    What a bunch of crap. The guy is a joke. What he wants is door to door service and a free lunch with the vote. Three million voters turned away please. What we need to worry about is the Black Panthers with billie clubs out in front of polling places – now thats scary. You have to have a drivers license or ID to fly, get your mail from the post office and about a dozen other things. Lewis just wants his band of thugs to vote for dead people. Special rule for idiots.

    May 17, 2012 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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