FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 17, 2019
WASHINGTON–All Voting is Local National Campaign Director Hannah Fried will testify before the House Administration Committee, Subcommittee on Elections, today in their field hearing, “Voting Rights and Election Administration in the United States.” Fried’s testimony highlights urgently needed reforms to end pervasive voting discrimination that has silenced vulnerable communities.
“Election administration practices can and should be used to expand access to the ballot for all eligible Americans,” Fried says. “Instead, laws, policies, and practices stand up barriers to voting and serve to disenfranchise millions of eligible Americans, particularly voters of color. Any wrongfully disenfranchised voter is one too many. This is why Congress must restore and expand safeguards of the right to vote, ensuring that every eligible American — regardless of race, income, age, or ability — can make their voice heard.”
Fried’s testimony cites evidence of needless barriers to the ballot gleaned from analyses of 2018 voting data across AVL’s five pilot states — Arizona, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Even in 2018 — a record year for turnout — voters nationwide faced such obstacles as: polling place closures, movements and changes; discriminatory restrictions on vote by mail; disturbing racial disparities in provisional ballot use and rejection; burdensome photo ID requirements and wrongful voter purges. Among the troubling statistics:
- Provisional ballot usage found strong connections to race. In Pennsylvania, voters in Philadelphia County (41% African American) are more than five times as likely to get a provisional ballot than voters in Allegheny County (12.7% Black) or Berks County (4% Black).
- African-American students faced unique barriers to voting. At Ohio’s two HBCUs, voters cast a disproportionate number of provisional ballots and were at least twice as likely to have their ballots rejected than voters countywide. In Florida in 2018, Florida A&M University – the state’s sole public HBCU – was the only major public campus without an early vote site.
- Historically disenfranchised voters were more likely to have problems voting by mail. In Arizona, just over 1 percent of Native American voters are on the state’s “permanent early voting list”, compared to approximately 80 percent of non-Native American voters.
Fried proposes concrete policy recommendations including passage of H.R. 4, the Voting Rights Advancement Act, to modernize the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and restore the key preclearance provision of the VRA that blocked discriminatory voting practices. Additional recommendations include: require jurisdictions to be more transparent about voting changes before an election; require jurisdictions to contact voters that they plan to purge to encourage them to check their registration and re-register; make it easier to register to vote through same day voter registration and automatic voter registration; and ensure polling locations have ample, well-trained poll workers and equipment to meet demand so that voters wait no longer than 30 minutes.
Her full testimony can be found here.
A live stream of the hearing is available here.
All Voting is Local fights to eliminate needless and discriminatory barriers to voting before they happen, to build a democracy that works for us all. It is a collaborative campaign housed at The Leadership Conference Education Fund, in conjunction with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation; the American Constitution Society; the Campaign Legal Center; and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. For more information about All Voting is Local, visit https://allvotingislocal.org and follow us on Twitter @votingislocal.