Protecting the Right to Vote: Oversight of the Department of Justice’s Preparations for the 2008 Election

Gilda R. Daniels, Statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Protecting the Right to Vote: Oversight of the Department of Justice’s Preparations for the 2008 Election (Sept. 9, 2008), available at

Statement Summary:  In 2000, we witnessed faulty voting machines with hanging chads and dimpled ballots. We also experienced error-filled purges and voter intimidation in minority neighborhoods. Since the 2000 Presidential election the voting rights vocabulary has expanded to include terms such as, voting irregularities and election protection and created a new debate regarding voter access versus voter integrity. Despite the debates and new legislation in the form of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), and the continued enforcement of other voting statutes such as the Voting Rights Act and the National Voter Registration Act, (NVRA), problems persist in the operation of our participatory democracy.

Although outdated voting machines were not the primary problem in 2004, the use of electronic voting machines birthed new concerns about accuracy and reliability, along with questions regarding poll workers’ ability to master the technology. This election enjoyed its share of election administration problems such as the misuse of provisional ballots, overzealous poll watchers, extremely long lines, deceptive voter practices, and ill-advised voter purges. In light of the problems and issues with the last two Presidential elections, it is vitally important that the Department use the full breadth of its statutory authority to act proactively to ensure that our democratic process provides every eligible citizen the opportunity to access the ballot and ensure that the ballot will be counted. In order to protect the fundamental right to vote, the government must act prior to Election Day. The Department should initiate contact with both state election officials and organizations to engage in a significant exchange of information in a nonpartisan and proactive way.

To download a full version of the statement, click here.

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