Congressman John Conyers on the Baker-Carter Election Reform Commission:

At the outset, Mr. Fund laid bare the nasty, racial underbelly of these proposals. The right-wing has been long engaged in tactics to suppress minority votes, but rarely lets slip about such tactics, as Fund did today. In a discussion about provisional ballots, Mr. Fund said that Congress should allow precinct workers to determine whether a provisional ballot should count because they would know who “looks as if they belong in the neighborhood.” Wonder what he meant by that? But we don’t have to wonder what effect the discarding of provisional ballots would have on voters, particularly those that are racial minorities. As detailed in the House Judiciary Committee Democratic staff’s report Preserving Democracy: What Went Wrong in Ohio?, the Republican Governor of Ohio rightly predicted that such a rule would result in discarding 100,000 valid votes. In one county alone, 1,100 eligible voters, who voted the correct ballot in the wrong precinct, had their ballots discarded. Fund wants to bring Blackwell’s tactics to the rest of the country so what went wrong in Ohio, can go right for Republicans across the country. It is common experience that the poor, elderly voters, minority voters and recent transplants to a state, like students, do not drive and, therefore, do not have a drivers’ license or a license with an in-state address to show at the polls. It is a fact that experts have estimated that nearly ten percent of voters do not have a picture identification card. What facts does the conspiracy theorist Mr. Fund have to offer? A Republican Congressman’s contention that someone voted in his sister’s name. I know and like the Congressman he cites as an authority, but think his lonely experience is hardly a justification for a new rule that would result in the disenfranchisement of hundreds of thousands of voters.

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