Gonzalez Blasts Efforts By Several States To Restrict Voter Access

Jul 18, 2011
Press Release


Expanded Voter ID requirements would disfranchise minorities, seniors, students and low‑income Americans


July 18, 2011 (Washington, DC): Elections Subcommittee Ranking Member Charles A. Gonzalez recently joined with Congressional colleagues, civil rights organizations and voter advocacy groups to denounce efforts by several states to expand identification requirements for voters. Today, 14 states have passed laws instituting repressive voter ID requirements and such laws have been introduced in 23 others. This sweeping, widespread, and coordinated effort will disfranchise millions of eligible voters. Led by Congresswoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH), these leaders stood before the Capitol to call on the Department of Justice to protect these voters’ constitutional rights.


“It is tragic to see the shameful voter ID laws that have been passed across this country and which threaten to disfranchise millions of Americans,” said Rep. Gonzalez (D-TX). “This is a question of protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens to participate in our democracy by voting. While African-Americans and Latinos are twice as likely as Whites not to have the proper identification, senior citizens are more than 3 times as likely. We should be working to encourage Americans to vote. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder must ensure that violations of the Voting Rights Act and other federal laws are challenged promptly, before any American is denied the right to vote.”


The U.S. Justice Department is charged with enforcing federal voting laws, including the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act prohibits discriminatory laws and voting procedures. Certain jurisdictions face stiffer requirements under Section 5 of the Act, having to seek preclearance that their proposed changes to voting laws or procedures does not discriminate. A 2006 study  by the Brennan Center for Justice, a non-partisan public policy and law institute, found that voter ID requirements have inordinate impact on low‑income voters. The study also showed that 18% of eligible voters over the age of 65, lack the required ID.  Indiana’s voter ID law denied nuns and veterans their right to vote in 2008’s historic presidential election.Earlier this week, the Department of Justice sued the state of Louisiana, alleging violation of the National Voter Registration Act.


“I join with my friend and colleague Mr. Gonzalez, in denouncing these deplorable and carefully coordinated efforts to disenfranchise millions of eligible American voters,” said House Administration Ranking Member Robert A. Brady. “These initiatives reflect a cavalier and insidious willingness to deny a large cross section of our population, access to one of the cornerstone principles of our Democracy – the right to vote. That right is sacred within our system of government and must be protected at all costs.”


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Congress Number: 
112th Congress