News Release

Election Reform: Interviews Available

Today, the National Commission on Federal Election Reform chaired by former Presidents Carter and Ford released its report. The following electoral analysts are available for interviews:

MILES RAPOPORT
President of Demos, a new public policy and advocacy organization on democracy issues, Rapoport said today: “Many recommendations would be real steps if adopted by the states. But we need to go much further to expand participation in our election process. One major step not recommended by the Commission would be Election Day voter registration, which could increase turnout by 10 percent and resolve many problems voters face at the polls. The Commission recommends eventual re-enfranchisement of people convicted of felonies, but not while they’re on probation.”
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THOMAS JOHNSON
Director and pastor of House of Hope, a non-denominational center in Gainesville, Florida that re-acclimates men once they have been released from jail or drug rehabilitation, Johnson has filed a class-action lawsuit against the state of Florida for its prohibition against former inmates voting. He said today: “It’s a step forward that this Commission is calling for at least the beginning of reinstating the rights of people to vote…. Like over 500,000 others in Florida — and an estimated 4 million nationally, largely black men — I’ve been disenfranchised. I’m a man who committed a crime, I went to prison for it. I’ve paid my debt to society. Now, I’m helping guide other men’s lives towards adhering to the law of the land, to have them be decent men, husbands and prominent citizens in the community. I’m supported by politically-minded people for the work that I do, yet the political system in Florida says I cannot vote.”

GWEN PATTON
Montgomery Pioneer Voting Rights Archivist at Trenholm State Technical College, Patton is a longtime voting rights activist based in Alabama. She said today: “We have long seen the shrinking of the electorate…. To refuse to restore voting rights to people convicted of felonies displays not only meanness, but is a self-incrimination of a justice system that has failed to rehabilitate such people. It is important that we have a national holiday for voting. Election Day should be a civic day…. The Electoral College makes a mockery of what we call a democracy. One person one vote — that should be the determinant of how we conduct our elections.”

ROB RICHIE
Executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy, Richie said today: “The Carter-Ford Commission’s recommendations provide great building blocks for improving our democracy and expanding the franchise, although reforms like instant runoff voting and proportional representation need to be considered to open our politics to more voices and create greater electoral fairness.”
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JOHN BONIFAZ
Attorney and executive director of the National Voting Rights Institute, Bonifaz said today: “The issues outlined by this Commission are an important step forward for changes in the electoral reform arena, but we also need to deal with the serious crisis we have in the dominance of big money in our elections. These reforms go hand in hand. We need to make it easier for people to vote, eliminate felon disenfranchisement, have same-day voter registration and make sure each vote is counted. But we need to eliminate the money barrier. If the only people who can run are the wealthy and the well-connected, then we have not addressed that core problem.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167