The Democratic National Committee went on offense Thursday, launching a major, public pushback against a raft of voter ID and other laws they say could disenfranchise millions of voters in 2012.
DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who represents a district in Florida in Palm Beach, the county notorious for voting irregularies that marred the 2000 presidential election, said the party will take an active role in citizen efforts to roll back laws passed in several states, including laws that impose strict photo ID requirements on potential voters, restrict the early voting period, end same-day voter registration, or that place sharp restrictions and potential penalties on organizations that register voters.
“Today, the DNC is announcing a new comprehensive effort to protect voters,” Wasserman-Schultz said on a conference call with reporters, in which the organization also announced the creation of a website, ProtectingTheVote.org,, along with a report detailing what Schultz said “Republicans are doing in regard to voter suppression, and what democrats aredoing to counter it.”
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Wasserman Schultz accused Republicans of mounting a “full scale attack on right to vote,” and of “seeking ways to restrict or limt people’s right to cast ballots for their own political advantage.”
She was joined on the call by Will Crossley, the DNC’s chief counsel and director of voter protection.
Crossley and Wasserman Schultz said voter ID and related laws particularly impact young, minority and low income voters, who often lack a government-issued ID.
Wasserman Schultz said Republican legislatures have passed strict photo ID requirements in 30 states, but noted that five states with Democratic governors saw those laws vetoed.
“We hear [that the laws are about] voter fraud, but the truth is every major investigation into voter fraud, including a five year investigation by the Bush Justice Department has revealed no voter fraud,” she said.
“These law are designed to make it harder to vote, especially among voters who support the president and Democratic candidates,” Wasserman Schultz said, noting that minorities vote early nearly twice as often as other voters, that 11 percent of Americans lack a government-issued ID, and that the percentage of black and Hispanic voters who lack the ID required to vote in states with strict voter ID laws is 25 percent for African-Americans and 19 percent for Hispanics.
As for what the party plans to do about it, Crossley cited DNC support for citizen initiatives that forced the reversal of a Maine law that ended same-day voter registration, and ACLU and NAACP lawsuits against voter reform laws in states like Florida.
Democrats said they also plan to deploy “tens of thousands of attorneys” to the polls in 2012, and to be “quite aggressive” in both beating back what they see as restrictive laws, and educating people about what identification or documentation they will need in order to cast ballots in 2012.