For Immediate Release


Bryan Fisher or Linda Paris, (202) 675-2312 or


ACLU Commends House Oversight Hearing on Department of Justice’s Plan for 2008 Election

the Constitution, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the
House Judiciary Committee and the Elections Subcommittee of the House
Administration Committee are scheduled to hold a joint hearing,
entitled "Federal, State and Local Efforts to Prepare for the
2008 Election." As part of this hearing, Grace Chung Becker, Acting
Assistant Attorney General, Civil Rights Division of the Department of
Justice, will testify. Recently, Attorney General Mukasey told voting
rights advocates that there was no greater priority in the next two
months for DOJ than to ensure a smooth election in November. To keep
this promise and to protect the fundamental right to vote, DOJ must be
prepared prior to Election Day with a comprehensive plan. The ACLU,
therefore, applauds this congressional oversight of DOJ's preparations
for the 2008 elections.

The following can be attributed to Deborah J. Vagins, ACLU Legislative Counsel: 

hearing is critical to restoring public confidence in the 2008
election. In recent years, the Department of Justice has shifted the
focus of the Voting Section from its traditional role of protecting the
voting rights of minorities to partisan enforcement of election
laws. As examples of this change, this administration has litigated on
behalf of white voters in Noxubee, Mississippi, deemphasized minority
voter suppression and dilution cases, and supported restrictive voter
ID laws, which disproportionately impact minority, elderly, and
low-income voters. In addition, the 2004 election raised problems
unchecked by federal election officials, such as improper voter purges
and misuse of provisional ballots.

of Congress should question the Department of Justice about reports
that it has selectively enforced our nation's voting rights laws and
placed undue focus on questionable allegations of voter fraud. In this
ground-breaking election, the Voting Section should return to its
historic role of expanding access to the polls for all voters
regardless of race, national origin, language proficiency or
disability. Our democracy depends on the broadest possible base of
voter participation."

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