I'm back at my hotel. Howard Dean (in person) and Richard Durbin (via video) gave great speeches tonight for the opening keynote talk. Dean's speech in particular met with a lot of approval from the audience. Part of his speech was the announcement of the work that will be going on within the Democratic party to ensure voter rights during the next election.  

Following is the press announcement:

August 2, 2007

Contact: Karen Finney/Stacie Paxton - 202-863-8148

DNC Announces Unprecedented Election Protection Project

Democrats to conduct
nationwide survey of administration of elections as part of an ongoing
commitment to protecting the rights of every American

Washington, DC- As the 42nd anniversary of the
signing of the Voting Rights Act approaches, the Democratic National
Committee today announced its unprecedented 50-state election
protection effort to prepare for the 2008 election. When signing the
Voting Rights Act of 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson said that the
"right to vote is the basic right without which all others are
meaningless. It gives people, people as individuals, control over their
own destinies." But nearly 42 years after the signing of this
legislation, the right to vote is still under assault.

its 50 State Strategy, Voting Rights Institute and National Lawyers
Council, the DNC is conducting an in-depth nationwide survey to collect
critical data on voting practices and procedures at the local level.
The goal of the project is to map the often confusing and complex sets
of administrative practices and decisions governing election
administration in every state. Working with local election boards, the
DNC is examining the election mechanics in each state, flagging
potential problems and election administration issues that threaten to
deprive citizens of their right to register, vote and have their vote
counted. Once these issues are identified, the DNC will work to resolve
potential problems well in advance of the 2008 election. Election laws,
while written on the federal and state level, are often subject to
interpretation at the local level. This decentralized process results
in varied administration and supervision of the elections themselves,
which can be potentially problematic considering that in 2008, there
will be at least 13,000 elections run by localities.

organization has ever undertaken a project of this magnitude. This
project is made possible through the DNC's 50 State Strategy, which has
had staff on the ground in every state for almost two years. With very
specific questions, the survey covers topics such as voter
registration, centralized voter databases, voting systems and absentee
voting, provisional balloting, polling place procedures and Election
Day preparation. This survey is just one part of a comprehensive
program on the part of the DNC to ensure that every American's right to
vote and have that vote counted is protected. 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. In addition to this project, the DNC will continue its
efforts to resolve the identified issues throughout next year, continue
to organize its network of lawyers in the states through the DNC's
Voting Rights Institute/National Lawyers Council and will run the most
extensive voter protection program throughout the country for the 2008
general election.

While the Democratic Party continues to work
to protect every American's right to vote and have that vote counted,
Republicans have aimed to create roadblocks for Americans to exercise
their right to vote through restrictive voter ID laws, voter purging,
and voter intimidation tactics. Under the Bush Administration's
politicized Justice Department we have seen an outright attack on
voting rights. In their latest scheme, the Republican Administration
has manipulated the mission of the Department of Justice, firing US
Attorneys who were unwilling to pursue phony "voter fraud" cases, and
politicized the Civil Rights Division - both underscore the GOP's utter
disregard for the integrity of our nation's election system.

Chairman Howard Dean and DNC Voting Rights Institute Chair Donna
Brazile issued the following joint statement on the DNC's effort to
safeguard the vote:

"Protecting the right of every eligible
American to vote is a top priority for our party. We believe that it's
good for America and good for our democracy when everyone votes. Every
eligible American deserves the confidence that when they go to the
polls to cast their ballot they can do so without fear of intimidation
or harassment, and that their vote will be counted fairly and
accurately. Unfortunately, nearly 42 years after the signing of the
Voting Rights Act, Americans' right to vote is still under assault.
From restrictive voter ID laws to voter intimidation schemes to
politicizing the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice,
the integrity of our nation's voting laws has been undermined. The goal
of this unprecedented project is to protect and ensure our voting
rights, by working now to identify and attempt to resolve election
administration issues that threaten to deprive citizens of the right to
register, vote and have their vote counted."

Republican Record of Denying and Suppressing Voting Rights

Bush Administration Politicizes Justice Dept., Twists Its Mission to Undercut Voting Rights for Partisan Purposes.

The Bush Administration's politicized Justice Department, under the
direction of political hacks planted to twist its mission for partisan
purposes, has launched an outright attack on voting rights rather than
promoting voting rights. The Bush Justice Dept has aimed to create
roadblocks for Americans to exercise their right to vote by approving
restrictive state voter ID laws, voter purging, and voter intimidation
tactics. And as is now well-known, top Justice Dept officials
improperly, and illegally, pressured U.S. Attorneys to bring phony
voter fraud cases against Democratic and progressive organizations and
individuals, to influence the outcome of elections for the Republicans.
[Washington Post, 1/22/04; Boston Globe 6/6/07; Charlotte Observer, 5/31/07]

GOP Suppression Tactics in 2006. In
Maryland, just days before the 2006 general election, copies of the
Election Day manual for the Maryland Republican Party were obtained; in
that manual, Republican Party workers were given false information
about voters' rights, were told systematically to challenge voters and
were advised to threaten election judges with jail time. Also in
Maryland, on Election Day, flyers were distributed in Prince George's
County, by the Ehrlich/Steele Republican campaign, falsely stating that
African American elected officials had endorsed the Republican
candidates for U.S. Senate and for Governor and misleading voters about
the party affiliation of those candidates. [Washington Post, 11/3/06; Baltimore Sun, 1/20/07]

Email from Bush Campaign in FL to RNC Includes List of Voters to Be Challenged from African-American Neighborhood.

"Two e-mails, prepared for the executive director of the Bush campaign
in Florida and the campaign's national research director in Washington,
DC, contain a 15-page so-called 'caging list.' It lists 1,886 names and
addresses of voters in predominantly black and traditionally Democrat
areas of Jacksonville, Florida. An elections supervisor in Tallahassee,
when shown the list, told Newsnight: 'The only possible reason why they
would keep such a thing is to challenge voters on election day.'" [BBC
Television News Online, 10/26/04]

In 2005 RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman Vowed to Challenge Voters at the Polls.
During an appearance on behalf of the GOP gubernatorial candidate in
Virginia in 2005, RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman vowed to "do whatever we can
to help make sure Jerry Kilgore becomes the next governor of the state"
- including, according to the AP "having poll workers on hand to
challenge voter eligibility." [AP, 05/26/05]

RNC Funded Company Trashed Voter Registration Forms in 2004:
"Voter's Outreach of America" aka "America Votes" is responsible for
ripping up democratic voter registrations in Nevada. According to the
investigative report, hundreds and perhaps thousands of individuals who
think they are registered to vote actually are not. The organization
has reportedly left Nevada and gone to Oregon. Full transcript of story
attached... Well, the company [Voter's Outreach for America, aka
America Votes] has been largely, if not entirely funded by the
Republican National Committee. We should also point out that similar
complaints have been received in Reno, where the registrar there has
asked the FBI to investigate. It's a complicated story and we'll have a
lot more tonight and I think in the days ahead." [KLAS Las Vegas
Channel 8, 4pm news, Oct. 12, 2004]

Republican Admits Systematic Challenges of Black and Hispanic Voters in 2002.
"In the 2002 antifraud experimental run, hundreds of Republican
activists slipped on their green vests and tested out the role of poll
monitor. In Milwaukee, the volunteers contested the residency of some
black voters and in the Hispanic communities they questioned the
nationalities of others. Overall, not much came of it. Even Mr. Graber
[Wisconsin Republican Chairman] concedes there were 'few reports of
trouble.' But he says the "dry run" two years ago has better prepared
the party for the challenges today." [Wall Street Journal, 10/22/04]

Republicans Tried to Scare Hispanic Immigrants From Voting.
State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent
to thousands of Southern California Hispanics warning them they could
go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the
attorney general said. In fact, immigrants who are naturalized U.S.
citizens can vote. [USA Today, 10/19/06]

Florida Election Officials Sought To Purge African-Americans From Voter Rolls.
Florida Officials Struck Over 2,000 Eligible Voters From Voting Rolls,
62% Were Democrats, More Than Half Were Black. An analysis by the Miami
Herald found that the Florida Division of Elections had improperly
included 2,119 voters who were on a list of more than 47,000 felons
potentially ineligible to vote in the November elections. Florida law
requires convicted felons to request clemency in order to regain their
right to vote. Of the 2,119 people on the list, 62% were registered
Democrats, almost half were Black and less than 20% were Republican.
Only sixty-one Hispanics were included on the list of over 47,000
felons though they comprise 11% of the prison population, a politically
significant fact for the November elections since Hispanics in Florida
vote overwhelmingly Republican while Blacks vote Democrat. [Miami Herald, 7/2/04; Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 7/7/04, 7/8/04; New York Times, 7/10/04]

Native Americans Told "To Go Home" In June Primary.
Poll workers demanded identification from Native Americans in South
Dakota's June primary, and they illegally turned away Native American
voters from the polls when they did not have it. The state's elections
auditor sent out a memo to state poll workers stating that all voters
must have IDs, but did not widely disseminate information that said
that voters could sign an affidavit in lieu of showing identification.
State Democrats say that the actions by poll workers were an extension
of a wider move by the GOP controlled state legislature to suppress
Native American turnout. The law requiring voters to show
identification was passed last year. One South Dakotan voter turned
away from the poll was told by an elections worker that "if she didn't'
have a photo ID, she could just turn around and home." [Argus Leader, 6/11/04]

Armed, Plain Clothes Police Officers Intimidated Elderly Black Voters In Orlando.
Plain clothes police officers, revealing their side arms, made house
calls to elderly, black voters who voted in Orlando's mayoral race in
March 2003. The voters were in large part campaign workers or
volunteers that helped to organize and get out the vote, mainly using
absentee ballots, for African- American Mayor Buddy Dyer. Dyer won with
just under 51% of the vote. His challenger, Ken Mulvaney and other
defeated candidate alleged that Dyer aide, Ezzie Thomas, the 73-year
old head of the Orlando League of Voters, filled out multiple absentee
ballots on behalf of black voters. These actions came in spite of the
fact that in May 2003 the Florida Dept of Law Enforcement had concluded
"that there was no basis to support the allegations of election
fraud."[Bob Herbert Column, New York Times, 8/16/04, 8/20/04; AP, 7/17/04]

Convicted Republican Phone Jammer Blamed GOP "Culture" and Was Afraid to Push Back on RNC Official.
As he finished serving a prison sentence for "jamming Democratic phone
lines in New Hampshire during the 2002 US Senate race," Allen Raymond
told the Boston Globe that the "scheme reflects a broader
culture in the Republican Party that is focused on dividing voters to
win primaries and general elections. He said examples range from some
recent efforts to use border-security concerns to foster anger toward
immigrants to his own role arranging phone calls designed to polarize
primary voters over abortion in a 2002 New Jersey Senate race." The
scheme led to "the convictions of Raymond and two top Republican
officials, and a Democratic lawsuit that seeks to determine whether the
White House played any role." Allen said "he got caught up in an
ultra-aggressive atmosphere" and that "he had been reluctant to turn
down a prominent official of the RNC, fearing that would cost him
future opportunities from an organization that was becoming
increasingly ruthless." [Boston Globe, 06/10/2006]


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