February 14, 2002
On behalf of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose over 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), whose membership exceeds 1800 rabbis, and Women of Reform Judaism (WRJ), whose membership exceeds 100,000, I write urging you to support the Dodd/McConnell/Schumer/Bond substitute to S. 565, the Equal Protection of Voting Rights Act.
The UAHC, CCAR, and WRJ have been constant voices in support of equal voting rights for all. Last year, our organizations were frustrated and disappointed at the presidential election debacle, the latest of a series of elections that grossly infringed on American citizens' right to cast a vote, as well as the right to have that vote counted. In response, the UAHC, CCAR, and WRJ passed resolutions calling for an overhaul of the current system, one that strengthens voter education, increases polling place accessibility, and develops clear standards for counting a vote.
S. 565 is a well-designed, comprehensive, and bipartisan proposal that will help alleviate most of the electoral problems our nation currently faces. This bill would require all voting machines be equipped with a mechanism to allow voters to verify their choices and correct errors before the ballot is cast. Additionally, it would require all states and local jurisdictions have provisional balloting and computerized voter rolls, both of which would create a significantly more flexible electoral system that could adjust to election day registration problems while preventing fraud and abuse. The Dodd/McConnell/Schumer/Bond substitute also provides for a much-needed increase in access for language minorities and disabled Americans.
It is vital that this legislation be approved as expeditiously as possible so that the nation's election officials can begin implementing the new law immediately.
On behalf of the UAHC, CCAR, and WRJ, we greatly appreciate your efforts in protecting the fundamental element of democracy, the right to vote. Thank you for your support on this important matter.
Associate Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism