Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Kerry on Voting Rights Report

Kerry Statement on the Release of the DNC Voting Rights Institute Ohio Report

Click to View the Bill summary of Count Every Vote Act

“It couldn't be more clear from this far reaching study that America has some serious work to do to strengthen our democracy and secure the fundamental rights of all our citizens. The findings of the Ohio Election Report strike at the core of our most cherished values of freedom and equal opportunity, and should concern every American no matter their political party, who they voted for or their racial and economic backgrounds.

“Our democracy is only as strong as the people's faith that their voice counts and their votes will be counted. It is unacceptable that forty years after the Voting Rights Act, Americans are still being denied their fundamental rights and protections under the law.

“I compliment Governor Dean, Donna Brazile and the DNC Ohio Investigation Team for this thorough report that documents the abuses we fought against in neighborhoods, the courts and at the polls. The recommendations for future action are critical. I suggest another important measure - that any pattern of voter challenges based on race should be a per se violation of our civil rights and voting rights laws and Congress must address them in the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2007.

“As we head into the 20005 and 2006 elections, I will work with the DNC and Democratic, Republican and Independent leaders across the country to implement the recommendations of this report and restore faith in American democracy. We must insist on reform at every level to stop voter suppression, strengthen voting rights and secure funding for election officials to purchase reliable and verifiable voting machines so that the discrepancies the voting rights team found in Ohio do not occur again.

“President Bush and Republican leaders should also read this report and use their control of Washington to take action on real electoral reform pending in the House and Senate.

“Protecting the right to vote isn't a Democratic or Republican value, it's an American value. Washington must pass reform like the Count Every Act of 2005, but we must also build a groundswell of support in communities across the country to hold elected leaders accountable for failing to protect the right to vote. “I will share the results of this study with elected leaders across the country and the hundreds of thousands of Americans who volunteered on my campaign in 2004. I am also committed to working with civil rights leaders and community activists across the country to secure real investments of time and resources for voter education and training.

“Forty years ago, in August 1965, the Voting Rights Act was signed by President Johnson. It was a landmark bi-partisan bill that allowed millions of Americans a true voice in our democracy. Forty years later as American troops put their lives on the line every day in the name of democracy across the world, we here at home must do everything we can to strengthen our democracy for all Americans.


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