Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced legislation today, as the House leaves for recess, that takes a symbolic stand against voter ID efforts in the run-up to November elections.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said last night that the upper chamber would keep working to pass the continuing resolution to fund the government for the next six months but wouldn’t work past Sunday.
Gillibrand introduced a companion bill to Rep. John Lewis’ (D-Ga.) Voter Empowerment Act, which was introduced in the lower chamber earlier this year.
The legislation’s provisions include authorizing an online registration option, authorizing same-day registration and permitting voters to update their registration data onsite, making “voter caging” a felony, establishing a national voter hotline to report voting issues, requiring provisional ballots be available and counted at all polling places, and “protecting against deceptive practices and intimidation.”
“We’ve come too far in our nation’s history to re-fight old battles over voting rights that already have been won,” said Gillibrand. “Instead of adding new burdens on voters, we should be giving them new protections. Ensuring that every vote counts is a cornerstone of our democracy that should be embraced by both sides of the aisle. I am honored to work on this bill with a true American hero like Congressman Lewis to ensure that voting is accessible and every American’s voice is heard.”
“It should be easy to vote, as simple as getting a glass of water, in a society that believes in the immutable right of every human being to determine his or her own future,” said Lewis. “We must eliminate every barrier and impediment to the electoral process to make voting fair, accessible, and an accurate representation of the will of the people. The vote is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society to build.”
The Voter Empowerment Act is supported by groups including the NAACP, Project Vote, DEMOS, National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, FairVote, Common Cause, and the National Association of Social Workers.