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Congresswoman Clarke’s Statement on Court Decision to Disenfranchise Voters

Brooklyn, N.Y. – Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke released the following statement about a decision of the U.S. District Court in Wichita, Kansas that will require the federal government to assist Kansas and Arizona in erecting obstacles to voting that will inevitably have a voter suppression effect and prevent many women and men of color from voting..

The decision issued today orders the Election Assistance Commission to print instructions on voter registration forms that require eligible voters to prove their citizenship when registering to vote in their state (but not federal) elections. To participate in federal elections, voters are required only to sign a statement affirming their citizenship.

“These restrictions on voting are nothing more than old tricks in a new disguise, and exist for the same reason as poll taxes and ‘literacy’ tests that were used – to prevent people of color and young and elderly women and men from exercising their rights under the Constitution,” said Congresswoman Clarke, who has worked in New York State to secure the right to vote for people in Brooklyn who lack representation in the state legislature because of delays in scheduling special elections.

Congresswoman Clarke continued: “We have heard much about ‘voter fraud,’ despite a lack of any evidence to support that this supposed problem actually exists. The supporters of these voter identification laws have refused to admit their real issue – the participation of people of color and young voters in elections, the kind of participation that elected, and then re-elected, President Obama and their inability to attract these voters to the political philosophy, ideology, and issues that they espouse.”

In recent years, dozens of states have enacted voter identification laws that require eligible voters to provide a driver’s license or other state-issued identification on election day. Instances of actual voter fraud are almost entirely non-existent – an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice completed in 2007 failed to prosecute a single person for impersonating an eligible voter.

U.S. Representative Yvette D. Clarke is a member of the House Committee on Small Business, Ethics, and Homeland Security, where she is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Infrastructure Protection, and Security Technologies. She represents many neighborhoods in central and southern Brooklyn, NY which include Brownsville, Crown Heights, East Flatbush, Flatbush, Gerritsen Beach, Madison, Midwood, parts of Park Slope and Flatlands, Prospect Heights, Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, Sheepshead Bay, and Windsor Terrace.