WASHINGTON - The American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) will launch a new series of non-partisan radio advertisements this week aimed at protecting voter rights and eliminating voter disenfranchisement.
“Recently, primary elections in the D.C. metro area were marred by inoperable voting machines, a shortage of paper ballots and other problems,” says AFGE National Vice President and Women’s and Fair Practices Director Andrea Brooks. “When you combine that with the memories of the 2000 presidential debacle, the widespread problems reported during the 2004 presidential election, and the upcoming mid-term elections, it’s easy to see that voter protection initiatives are needed now more than ever.”
In the ads, Brooks urges potential voters to demand provisional ballots if their right to vote is challenged and to resist any attempts to keep voters away from the polls. Additionally, Brooks also emphasizes the importance of being informed before casting a ballot.
In addition to launching its own issue ad campaign, AFGE also supports the efforts of civil rights groups and non-partisan voter protection coalitions in their fight to get states to adopt the Voter Protection Act, legislation that protects against voter intimidation and suppression. The Act employs the following avenues to ensure that eligible voters are allowed to vote:
Penalties for intimidation and suppression—Heavy penalties would be imposed for both voter intimidation and suppression. Most states currently prohibit voter intimidation but not fraudulent suppression. Many state voter intimidation laws also have inadequate penalties.
Voter’s Bill of Rights—Every polling place would be required to post a Voter’s Bill of Rights. Seven states (CA, CT, FL, IN, MN, NV, NJ) currently have a Voter’s Bill of Rights.
Election Day Manual of Procedures—A book that clearly sets out election rules would be available to both voters and officials at the polls. In 2005, New Jersey and Washington enacted laws requiring an election manual. (Source: Center for Policy Alternatives)
“If voters can’t trust the voting process, our system has failed,” says Brooks.