Rep. Bob Brady Co-Sponsors ‘Voter Empowerment Act’ as Obama Camp Releases Web-Based Voter Assistance
Philadelphia Rep. Bob Brady (D-Phila) was one of five House Democrats to co-sponsor the Voter Empowerment Act, a voting rights law which attempts to combat recent Republican attempts at disenfranchising voters, though does not block state Voter ID legislation.
“With a pivotal presidential election just six months away, we must do all we can to ensure free and fair elections and that everyone can vote,” notes a House Democratic press release, which adds about 3 million Americans were turned away from the polls in 2008, 51 million eligible voters in the United States are not registered and, in addition to Voter ID, many states have passed laws restricting voter registration drives.
The bill seeks to authorize an online registration option, authorize same-day registration, require universities that receive federal funds to “offer and encourage voter registration to their students,” establish a national voter hotline and reauthorizing the “Election Assistance Commission, which was created through the national Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Similarly, the Obama Campaign recently created GottaVote.org, a website meant to protect the right to vote and provide information for those who aren’t sure if they’re eligible to vote, or need more information. Information found on the site is both national and localized to the state from which the web surfer is browsing.
On an Obama Campaign conference call this afternoon, Obama For America Deputy Director of Operation Vote Michael Blake noted the new website will explain “how [citizens] can get registered and what they need to get registered…the changes…what you need [and explaining] here’s how you can get involved in the process; what they need so they can vote.”
The website, those on the call noted, is meant to put voting—both how to do so, and what will be required of you at the polls, given your state’s restrictions—in the simplest terms, possible, in both English and Spanish.
Obama For America General Counsel Bob Bauer noted that, perhaps although there are pending lawsuits against Voter ID laws around the country, “voter education is a constant,” and did not say whether this was an effort to simply live with new Republican restrictions put on voting in states, in which minorities, young people, the elderly, students and women suffer the brunt of it. It was noted in sound bite fashion that, “We’ve never solved anything in this country with less democracy, and we’re not going to start now.”
Oddly, Republicans in the Pennsylvania Legislature have recently floated an idea to allow online voting registration, which is in line with Brady’s national bill.
There is a local effort underway to fight restricted voter access, as well, which include action from groups like Project H.O.M.E. and a web-based app produced by Faye Anderson, called Cost of Freedom.