Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oklahoma Democrats Announce

Unprecedented Election Protection Program

Oklahoma City, OK -- Democratic Party Chair Ivan Holmes today announced that state Democrats would participate in an unprecedented 50-state election protection program to prepare for the 2008 election. Through the Democratic National Committee’s 50 State Strategy, the DNC Voting Rights Institute and the National Lawyers Council, Democrats across America are conducting an in-depth nationwide survey to collect critical data on the often confusing and complex sets of administrative practices and decisions governing our nation’s elections. With the help of DNC-funded staffers hired through the DNC’s State Party Partnership program, Oklahoma Democrats will work with election officials throughout the State to help identify potential issues so they can be resolved well in advance of the 2008 election.

“As America prepares to mark the 42nd anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, I am honored to announce this unparalleled effort to bring the ideals of that landmark law closer to reality,” said Holmes. “When President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, he called right to vote the ‘basic right without which all others are meaningless.’ But 42 years after the signing of this legislation, the right to vote is still under assault. Oklahoma Democrats will not rest until every single eligible Oklahoman can register to vote, cast their ballot without fear of intimidation or harassment, and have confidence that their vote will be counted fairly and accurately.”

While election laws are written on the federal and state level, they are administered and interpreted by local officials. This decentralized process can result in variations in how elections are administered supervised and how Americans register to vote, cast their ballots and have their votes counted. The fact that there will be at least 13,000 elections run by localities in 2008 leaves the potential for inconsistencies that could threaten voting rights. Oklahoma Democrats will work with local election officials to answer very specific questions about voter registration, centralized voter databases, voting systems and absentee voting, provisional balloting, polling place procedures and Election Day preparation. Data collected from the survey will be analyzed to determine the needs of each election locality and next steps for strengthening the election process in that locality.

“Nothing like this has ever been done before, and could never have been possible without the DNC's 50 State Strategy,” said Holmes. “For the first time, we have staff on the ground who can work intensively with our local election officials to make sure our elections run as smoothly and fairly as possible and that every single Oklahoman who wants to can vote and have their vote counted.”

The Democratic Party’s commitment to protecting every American's right to vote stands in stark contrast to what we have seen from Republicans across the country. From restrictive voter ID laws and voter purging to voter intimidation tactics, Republicans have placed a variety of roadblocks that keep countless Americans from exercising their right to vote. Nothing underscores this more than the recent revelations that the Bush Administration has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice by firing US Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony "voter fraud" cases and politicizing the Civil Rights Division.

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