Gonzalez Testifies Against Voter Suppression
November 14, 2011 (Washington, DC) Elections Subcommittee Ranking Member, Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) submitted testimony to a Congressional forum entitled, “Excluded from Democracy: The Impact of Recent State Voting Law Changes.” The forum is the first proceeding on the subject in the House, although this year has witnessed dozens of states considering or adopting legislation dramatically changing the voting process.
On November 9th, Rep. Gonzalez co-signed a letter to the chairmen and ranking members of the Judiciary and House Administration Committees requesting hearings on the impact of new state election laws. Still awaiting a response, House Democrats believe this issue requires immediate attention and held today’s forum to highlight the devastating impact of these new laws.
In his testimony, entitled “Voter ID Laws Lead to Less Voting, Not Less Fraud”, Rep. Gonzalez explained how these new laws could disenfranchise millions of legitimate voters without stopping a single case of voter fraud.
“Study after study has shown what everyone knows,” said Rep. Gonzalez, “that there is no conspiracy of people going to the polls to commit voter fraud. Rather, the actual voter fraud, the indictments and criminal convictions, have been efforts to keep eligible voters away from the polls and deny our fellow citizens of their constitutionally protected rights. These ill-conceived laws will only work to weaken our democracy and not strengthen it.”
“Guaranteeing access to the ballot is a fundamental right of our democracy,” said House Administration Ranking Member, Robert Brady (D-PA). “Restrictive and discriminatory laws do nothing to safeguard that right, and only serve to impede people from exercising their right to vote”
Witnesses at the forum included eligible voters whose right to vote has already been hampered by these new voting laws and experts talking about the millions of Americans who could be disenfranchised next year. Among the topics discussed was the fact that these laws create disproportionate burdens on minority, low-income, young, elderly, and disabled voters.
Last week, House Administration Ranking Democratic Member Robert Brady and Rep. Gonzalez joined Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) at a press conference on these new laws. They joined with 193 of their Democratic colleagues in writing to the chief election officers in every state, calling on them to put partisan considerations aside and protect voters’ access to the ballot box.
Rep. Gonzalez testified on this subject before the Senate Committee on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights at a September 8th hearing entitled, “New State Voting Laws: Barriers to the Ballot?”