On Election Day, Obama Introduces Legislation to Prevent Election Fraud
By Press Release
November 09, 2005
Link to Press Release
Link to Text of S. 1975
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) Tuesday introduced
legislation to protect Americans from using tactics that intimidate
voters and prevent them from exercising their rights on Election Day.
Obama's legislation, the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation
Prevention Act of 2005, would make it illegal for anyone to knowingly
attempt to prevent others from exercising his or her right to vote by
providing deceptive information and would require the Attorney General
to fully investigate these allegations. The legislation would also
require the Attorney General, in conjunction with the Election
Assistance Commission, to provide accurate election information when
allegations of deceptive practices are confirmed.
"One of our most sacred rights as Americans is the right to
make our voice heard at the polls," said Obama. "But too often, we hear
reports of mysterious phone calls and mailers arriving just days before
an election that seek to mislead and threaten voters to keep them from
the polls. And those who engage in these deceptive and underhanded
campaign tactics usually target voters living in minority or low-income
neighborhoods. This legislation would ensure that for the first time,
these incidents are fully investigated and that those found guilty are
In his statement upon introduction of the bill, Obama commented:
"It might surprise some of you to know, but even in this awesome age of
technological advancement and easy access to information, there are
folks who will stop at nothing to try to deceive people and keep them
away from the polls. These deceptive practices all too often target and
exploit vulnerable populations, like minorities, the disabled, or the
Obama's legislation would provide a criminal penalty for deceptive
practices, with penalties of up to $100,000 or one year imprisonment,
or both. The legislation would also require the Attorney General to
work with the Federal Communications Commission and the Election
Assistance Commission to determine the feasibility of using the public
broadcasting system as a means of providing voters with full and
accurate Election Day information.
"Think about the story of the 2004 presidential election when voters in
Milwaukee received fliers from the non- existent ``Milwaukee Black
Voters League,'' warning that voters risk imprisonment for voting if
they were ever found guilty of any offense--even a traffic violation.
In that same election, in a county in Ohio, some voters received
mailings misinforming voters that anyone registered to vote by the
Kerry Campaign or the NAACP would be barred from voting. Deceptive
practices often rely on a few tried and true tricks. Voters are often
warned that an unpaid parking ticket will lead to their arrest or that
folks with family members who have been convicted of a crime are
ineligible to vote. Of course, these warnings have no basis in fact,
and they are made with one goal and one goal only to keep Americans
away from the polls.
"I hope voters who go to the polls today are not victims of such
malicious campaigns, but I know hoping is not enough. That is why I am
introducing the Deceptive Election Practices and Voter Intimidation
Prevention Act of 2005 to provide voters with real protection from
deceptive practices that aim to keep them away from the polls on
The bill I am introducing today provides the clear statutory language
and authority needed to get allegations of deceptive practices
investigated. It establishes harsh penalties for those found to have
perpetrated them. And the bill seeks to address the real harm of these
crimes --voters who are discouraged from voting by misinformation -- by
establishing a process for reaching out to these misinformed and
intimidated voters with accurate and full information so they can cast
their votes in time. Perhaps just as important, this bill creates
strong penalties for deceptive election acts, so people who commit
these crimes suffer more than just a slap on the hand."
Obama's legislation is supported by the National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People, Common Cause, the Arc of the United
States, the People for the American Way, the National Disability Rights
Network, United Cerebral Palsy and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil
Rights Under Law.
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