Sets Up 'Voter Protection Hotline', Calls for Paper 'Trails' and Lawyers in 15 'Key States'...
But We're Gonna Need Much More Than That...
By Brad Friedman on 8/3/2006, 10:57am PT  

Blogged by Brad on the long, hot road...

The DNC Media Office released information on their planned "Expanded National Voter Protection Effort" today. I'll avoid my knee-jerk reaction to say "Expanded" from what?! Their full media release is posted below.

As I've got to get in the car and head up to St. Paul for a PBS TV show taping (Mental Engineering) over the weekend, I don't have much time to comment on the strategy and release for now. As you may guess, I have some feelings on both. You'll simply have to guess at those feelings for now. Suffice to say, we need more than paper "trails" and attorneys on Election Day... I applaud the tireless efforts of Greg Moore, heading up the DNC Voting Rights Institute. He "gets it" --- but the rest of the DNC still seems to be burying their head in the sand about the seriousness of the problem.

To that end, and by way of example, we could also use their help in dealing with issues like the Busby/Bilbray U.S. House special election in CA50 now if they are serious about protecting the ballot box in November everwhere! (An essay I posted some weeks ago describing how what happens now in CA50 affects the vote everywhere this November is right here: "A Line in the Sand")

The full release from the DNC as issued within the past hour follows...

For Immediate Release
August 3, 2006

Contact: Damien LaVera - 202-###-####

DNC Announces Expanded National Voter Protection Effort

National 1-888-DEM-VOTE Voter Protection Hotline To Help Voters Across the Country Participate in our Democracy

Washington, DC - Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today announced the DNC's expanded national voter protection efforts. In addition to the establishment of a national voter protection hotline and the placement of election protection staff in 15 key states, the DNC is implementing a comprehensive series of efforts aimed at helping Americans register to vote, learn how and where to cast their ballot, and provide assistance in overcoming Republican-led efforts to suppress voter turnout for the November elections.

These voter protection initiatives are part of Governor Dean's unprecedented investment in Democratic get-out-the-vote efforts for the 2006 elections. Under his leadership, the DNC has committed $12 million to help elect Democrats at every level in 38 states across America--roughly 10 times the hard money the DNC spent four years ago for coordinated campaigns.

The DNC's new national hotline, 1-888-DEM-VOTE, builds on the tremendous success of the toll-free number established in March 2006 by the DNC Voting Rights Institute to provide information about how and where displaced New Orleans residents could vote and to help Indiana voters disenfranchised by the Republican voter ID law passed by Indiana Republicans. It will provide critical assistance to voters all across the country, including in key electoral targets and in states facing Republican challenges to the right to vote by providing poll location information, assistance in applying for absentee ballots, and help reporting voting problems before, during, and after Election Day.

Across America, voters have confronted a dizzying array of Republican-led challenges to the right to vote. These include discriminatory voter ID laws in states like Indiana, Georgia, Ohio and Missouri; irresponsible voter registration rules in Ohio and Florida; inappropriate purges of voter lists in states like Indiana and Florida; the use of faulty election machines and inadequate machine maintenance that fail to protect the integrity of the vote; a criminal phone jamming scheme in New Hampshire; and discrepancies in election day practices that disproportionately effect rural, elderly, poor, minority, and student voters.

"For Republicans, nothing is more important than their partisan interests, not even the American people's most cherished right to vote and have that vote counted," said DNC Chairman Howard Dean. "The list of tools that Republicans are using to enhance their electoral prospects at the expense of our right to vote reads like shameful litany from past eras: discriminatory voter ID laws; restricting access to voter registration; improper attempts to purge voter lists; the use of voting machines that leave no verifiable audit trails; criminal phone jamming schemes; and inconsistently administered elections.

"Democrats believe that the more people who vote, the better it is for our country. That is why we are working hard every single day to protect the right of the American people to participate in our democracy, and why we have committed unprecedented resources to the effort to get out the vote in this year's elections. Our national voter protection hotline, 1-888-DEM-VOTE, is the latest in our ongoing effort to ensure that every American can vote with confidence this November."

In addition to the national voter protection hotline, the DNC's voter protection strategy for 2006 includes:

  • COORDINATING NATIONAL ELECTION PROTECTION STRATEGY: At the DNC's Summer Meeting in Chicago, the DNC Voting Rights Institute and the National Lawyers Council will meet with the leadership of every state party to lay out their step by step plans for protecting voters at the polls at every level;
  • PROVIDING ELECTION PROTECTION STAFF: The DNC will place election protection staff in 15 key states and provide training and step-by-step Election Protection manuals to other states.
  • RECRUITING LEGAL ASSISTANCE ALL ACROSS THE COUNTRY: The National Lawyers Council is recruiting 7,500 pro-bono lawyers and law students to support the DNC's election protection program. These lawyers will be placed in precincts to augment voter protection efforts at every level-including not just statewide office and Congressional races, but local and county races as well. These offices from state representatives to county sheriffs and judges will have a profound impact on the lives of real citizens throughout the year.
  • ADVANCING LEGISLATION FOR VERIFIED VOTING: The DNC will continue working with Congressional leaders, grassroots activists and state parties to build support for federal legislation to mandate a verified voting paper trail for voting machines that has been proven as the best method of securing votes.
  • FILING LITIGATION TO BLOCK LEGISLATION: The DNC will work with state parties to file litigation to prevent imposition of egregious photo ID and other Republican sponsored legislation that disenfranchise voters. This follows the successful partnership the DNC has undertaken with state parties pursuing legal challenges to, for example, Indiana's voter ID law and to the effort to investigate the criminal phone-jamming scheme in New Hampshire.
  • MONITORING STATE LEGISLATION: The National Lawyers Council and the Voting Rights Institute will continue to meet with top election law attorneys and monitor state legislative initiatives that have the potential to dilute the voting rights of key constituency voters. They are also updating manuals from the last election cycle to reflect new changes in election laws across the country.
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