WASHINGTON, D.C. (Jan. 23, 2013) — Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus joined Democratic leaders in reintroducing the Voter Empowerment Act.
This comprehensive voting rights legislation aims to modernize our voter registration system, ensure equal access to the ballot box for all Americans, and prohibit voter caging and other deceptive practices that keep people from exercising their constitutional right to vote.
Congresswoman Judy Chu (CA-27), CAPAC Chair: “Over the last two years, state legislatures across the country introduced over 150 bills aimed at disenfranchising voters – particularly the young, the elderly, the disabled, and minorities. Today, exactly 49 years since the ratification of the 24th Amendment, we are still embroiled in a critical fight to make our democracy accessible to all of our citizens. As Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus, I am proud to join my colleagues in safeguarding every American’s right to vote and ensuring that their voices will be heard.”
Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-03), CAPAC Civil Rights Taskforce Chair: “The right to vote is a fundamental right that determines the makeup and direction of our government. It is imperative that we ensure that every eligible voter is given the opportunity to vote, free from unnecessary barriers and schemes. The Voter Empowerment Act will ensure that the people can make their voices heard at the ballot box.”
Congressman Mike Honda (CA-17), CAPAC Chair Emeritus: “As we celebrate this past week’s historic Inaugural activities, we are reminded of the great and enduring democracy that binds our nation, history, values and citizens. This is why I believe that the re-introduction of the Voter Empowerment Act is a bill with pragmatic solutions, which modernizes our voter registration system; ensures equal access to the ballot box for all Americans; and creates a more inclusive voting process. It ensures the preservation of and access to our democracy.
“Early voting, absentee ballots and in-language assistance are key pillars of voting, and it is unfortunate that Democrats have to fight tooth and nail to retain them. Instead of turning voters away from the polls, we must protect their civic engagement and constitutional right. Instead of road blocking citizenship rights for which thousands have fought and died, we must educate our citizens, and future citizens on the pathways to gain citizenship, regardless of what they look like, where they come from or what language they speak. It is my sincere hope our Republican colleagues will join us in this effort.”
Congressman Ami Bera (CA-07): “The right to vote is absolutely fundamental to our democracy and should be embraced by people from both sides of the aisle. We must work to modernize the American electoral system and add voter protections that will ensure that everyone who’s eligible to vote can, and that every vote counts.”
Congressman Gerald Connolly (VA-11): “As we observe the 49th Anniversary of the 24th Amendment, we must acknowledge that our work is not done when it comes to protecting our sacred right to vote. Americans confronted a dysfunctional voting system on Election Day, featuring a haphazard patchwork of confusing rules and procedures. In many regions, including Virginia, voters were forced to stand in line for hours to simply cast a ballot. Such outrageous costs amount to a de facto, modern-day poll tax, and they must be eliminated. I am a proud cosponsor of the Voter Empowerment Act, which will help us achieve this goal by strengthening the accessibility and security of our Elections to ensure that no citizen’s vote is impeded, discouraged, or discarded.”
Congressman Eni Faleomavaega (AS): “I am proud to stand with my CAPAC colleagues on the reintroduction of the Voter Empowerment Act, a bill that aims to protect every citizen’s right to vote. This bill is a crucial step towards ensuring the strength of our democracy. It is also fitting, therefore, that today we recognize a hallmark decision in our nation’s history which served this same purpose. On the 49th anniversary of the 24th Amendment, which prohibits both Congress and the states from instituting a poll tax, let’s be mindful that no citizen, regardless of their background or their circumstance, should be hindered from their constitutional right to vote.”
Congresswoman Doris Matsui (CA-06): “One of the government’s most sacred duties is to protect the rights of all American citizens regardless of age, race, gender, or income. Unfortunately, our country is in the midst of one of the most aggressive assaults on voting rights we have seen in decades. Since 2011, 20 states have successfully passed restrictive voting laws. The Voter Empowerment Act is critical legislation that would ensure all eligible Americans have equal access to the voting process. The right to vote is a fundamental right and a cornerstone on which our democracy was built. It is time to pass this important legislation.”
Congresswoman Grace Meng (NY-06): “This critical legislation would ensure that every American can fully exercise their constitutional right to vote. It would go a long way towards modernizing and improving the integrity of our electoral system by expanding voter registration, reducing long wait times and knocking down barriers that discourage citizens to vote. In elections, every vote counts. It is essential that we do all we can to ensure that all Americans are afforded the chance to cast their vote, and that every vote is counted.”
Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (IL-09): “I am proud to join so many of my colleagues in reintroducing the Voter Empowerment Act. The Voter Empowerment Act, of which I am a cosponsor, is needed to ensure that every eligible citizen can have their voice heard at the ballot box. I am pleased the bill includes my proposal to boost voter registration on college campuses.”
The Voter Empowerment Act will help ensure equal access to the ballot for every eligible voter, will modernize our voter registration system to help more Americans participate, and takes steps to eliminate deceptive practices and voter fraud that deter voters from casting their ballots. The bill safeguards against barriers to voting for certain groups, including seniors, students, low-income Americans, and members of the Armed Services. The Voter Empowerment Act was reintroduced today with 165 original cosponsors, exactly 49 years after the passage of the 24th Amendment which banned the historically discriminatory practice of the poll tax.