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Lawyers' Committee's Jonah Goldman Delivers Powerful Testimony Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary

May 20, 2008

 

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Lawyers’ Committee’s Jonah Goldman Delivers Powerful
Testimony Before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary
“Protecting the Constitutional Right to Vote for All Americans”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On Tuesday, May 20, Jonah Goldman, director, National Campaign for Fair Elections, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, testified before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding the protection of the foundational issue of America’s great democracy – the fundamental right to vote. 

During his testimony Goldman articulated the efforts and experiences of The National Campaign for Fair Elections, established by the Lawyers’ Committee to serve as the lead legal partner of Election Protection, the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition, and to turn the lessons learned from that experience into real, effective, policy solutions for America’s voters.

Goldman addressed the critical value of the hearing in remedying problems with voting infrastructures across the country which, if not given serious immediate attention, could disenfranchise thousands if not millions of Americans.

Additionally, he shared findings of Election Protection’s 2008 Primary report.  This year, the Lawyers’ Committee will recruit, train and deploy over 10,000 legal volunteers to develop a nationwide comprehensive, year round program to work on all facets necessary to ensure the right to vote.  The Lawyers’ Committee will support over 150 coalition partners, establish a productive dialogue with election officials, conduct strategic legal voter protection field programs and answer the 1-866-OUR-VOTE hotline, the nation’s largest voter services hotline which, since its inception, has answered nearly 300,000 calls from voters across the country, including over 6,000 in this year’s primaries.

“The 1st, 14th and 15th amendments give Congress the power to protect this fundamental right,” said Goldman.  “This country is the light of liberty and democracy.  Our noble experiment in providing each citizen a voice in the destiny of her country – constantly evolving and made better through expanding the voices of those able to participate – is now the template for freedom around the world.  The hope of our democratic institutions inspires nations to entrust power to the citizenry.  Our election system needs an overhaul and not with political solutions to non-existent problems – like requiring discriminatory photo ID requirements, but with common sense solutions to the real problems voters face.”

During this year’s primaries, Election Protection identified unique challenges in each of the 10 states in which programs were run.  Four themes emerged across state lines that violate the constitutional right to vote by denying eligible voters an opportunity to cast a ballot:

·      under trained and under resourced poll workers;

·      voting technology malfunctions;

·      inaccurate and incomplete registration lists; and

·      Problems with voter identification requirements.  

To read Election Protection’s 2008 Primary Report and Goldman’s written testimony, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org or www.ncffe.org.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, was formed in 1963 at the request of President John F. Kennedy to involve the private bar in providing legal services to address racial discrimination. The principal mission of the Lawyers’ Committee is to secure, through the rule of law, equal justice under law, particularly in the areas of housing, community development, employment, voting, education and environmental justice.  For more information about the LCCRUL, visit www.lawyerscommittee.org.

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