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Barbara Boxer calls for enforcement of voting rights laws

September 27, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to enforce voting rights laws.
Sen. Barbara Boxer sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to enforce… (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles…)

Sen. Barbara Boxer on Thursday urged the Justice Department to enforce voting rights laws following a Los Angeles Times story detailing efforts to purge voter rolls in Ohio.

The story described efforts by tea party members to remove at least 2,100 names from voter rolls in the swing state. A group called the Ohio Voter Integrity Project, an offshoot of True the Vote, worked to remove students from rolls for not specifying their dorm room numbers, as one example. It also tried to remove a woman who had lived at the same residence for seven years because her home was listed as a commercial, rather than residential, building.

“The right to vote has been the result of a long and difficult struggle in America,” Boxer said in a letter to Assistant Atty. Gen. Thomas Perez, the head of the civil rights division of the Justice Department. “It has taken generations to ensure full voting rights for minorities, women and young people. No group can be allowed to intimidate or interfere with this fundamental right that is essential for American democracy.”

Boxer enclosed a copy of the story in her letter.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 makes it illegal for people to try to intimidate others from voting or attempting to vote. Still, the topic of who may vote has been a controversial issue this election year, with Democrats and Republicans battling across the country about whether voters need a picture ID to vote and whether they should be allowed to go to the polls early.

A report released this week warned that photo ID requirements combined with voter roll purges could prevent 10 million Latinos from voting in November.

Groups such as the Ohio Voter Integrity Project say they are trying to ensure that everyone who votes is qualified to do so and is accurately registered. In Ohio, the effort did uncover some voters on the rolls who had died or moved. But the Republican secretary of state insisted that no more than a handful of illegal votes had been cast in Ohio in recent presidential elections

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