CIVILRIGHTS.ORG - June 2, 2004
Voting rights advocates identify top risks to voters in 2004
By civilrights.org staff
Advocates for voting rights pressed local and federal governments to restore public confidence in the legitimacy of the upcoming 2004 elections.
The League of Women Voters (LWV), in conjunction with other civil rights groups, called for urgent action and announced the "Top Five Risks to Eligible Voters in 2004" at a news conference on May 27. The top risks identified by the groups are: voter registration problems, erroneous purging, problems with new ID requirements, difficulties with voting systems, and failure to count provisional ballots.
"The 2004 election is in danger," said LWV President Kay Maxwell. "We are here today to sound the alarm."
Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, cited numerous voter registration issues and proposed actions needed to remedy them. Henderson identified incomplete and inaccurate voter lists at polling places as a chief concern.
"One and a half to three million Americans were kept from voting in 2000 due to registration problems," he pointed out.
Henderson added that the Help America Vote Act of 2002 needs adequate funding in order to ensure that voter data is transferred between government agencies and that election officials are properly trained.
Identifying another risk, Washington Director of the NAACP Hilary Shelton highlighted that thousands of votes were lost in the 2000 election due to erroneous purging of eligible voters. Most of these voters, Shelton emphasized, were racial or ethnic minorities.
Shelton said that municipalities should honor a recently-passed law that prohibits new purges less than 90 days before an election. He hopes that no exceptions will be made to the law, which gives voters time to respond to notification that they will be purged from voter registration lists.
Other speakers at the news conference included representatives from the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund (NALEO) and the American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD).
Larry Gonzalez of NALEO recommended bilingual poll workers be present at polling stations to handle the 7 million Latinos expected to vote in the November 2004 election. Jim Dickson of AAPD insisted that poll workers be trained to properly assist voters with disabilities.