Statement for the League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia
US House Committee on Oversight and Accountability
US House Committee on Administration
Joint Hearing on American Confidence in Elections: The Path to Election Integrity in the District of Columbia
June 7, 2023
Chairman Comer, Ranking Member Raskin, Chairman Steil, Ranking Member Morelle, and members of the Oversight and Administration Committees:
The League of Women Voters of the United States and the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia appreciate the opportunity to share with the House Oversight and Administration Committees our strong feelings about the state of DC elections and the need for a continued push to make the District a full participant in our democracy. The League is a century-old, federated organization with more than 500,000 members and supporters across the country who carry out our mission to empower voters and defend democracy. For decades, the League has worked to empower voters and defend democracy by ensuring every eligible American can participate at the ballot box.
The League agrees with the statement of the Chairmen when they announced this hearing: “Congress needs to get serious about election integrity and implement a comprehensive plan to restore confidence in America’s electoral process.”
At the League, we hope to bring together members from both political parties to pass reforms that build voter confidence, ensure election integrity, and equip states with the necessary resources to conduct elections efficiently. Through our work supporting the full funding of the Election Assistance Commission, the League has sought to build resources for states on best practices for election administration. For the last 30 years, the League has defended the National Voter Registration Act and sought to ensure voters have the resources and tools necessary to manage their registration information. Finally, we’ve been a huge supporter of list maintenance practices that are transparent, accurate, fair, and identify and reach out to unregistered voters.
But these reforms and the ones proposed in the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act cannot be implemented at the expense of the residents of the District of Columbia. For centuries, District residents have lived in the shadow of the Capitol Building, the shrine of American democracy, without a voting voice in Congress. The District has just one non-voting delegate to the US House of Representatives and no members in the Senate; Congress has the final say over the District’s local laws. Members of Congress have overridden the will of the people of DC on numerous issues from needle exchanges, the criminal code, and access to abortion, despite the fact that those same Congresspeople do not represent and were not elected by DC residents. Until the residents of DC achieve statehood, Congress must allow DC residents and their elected leaders to self-govern without interference.
Current DC voting policies work for the people of the District. Instead of applying restrictive voting policies in DC that would negatively impact access to the polls, Congress should appreciate the success of the numerous DC voting policies aimed at registering and turning out voters. In the District, voters can register on Election Day, receive a no-excuse mail-in ballot, vote early, drop off their ballot at one of numerous drop box locations around the city, and select between multiple official forms of proof of residence to register to vote. Over the past decade, the rate of registration of eligible voters in DC has been strong — that ratio is consistently over 80%, with 67% of registered voters voting in the 2020 election, a figure that is in line with the national average voter turnout ratio. Any policies that would make it more difficult to vote risk lowering DC’s voter turnout and ultimately disenfranchising potential voters in a city with a majority population of Black and brown voters as well as voters from other marginalized communities. The attempts to roll back voting rights for the people of DC are a direct threat to the rights of Black voters, senior citizen voters, and disabled voters who reside in the district.
Many of DC’s voting policies would be altered by the proposals in the ACE Act. Instead of respecting local, elected leaders making democratic policies to govern their community, Subtitle C of the ACE Act focuses on making disruptive changes to photo ID requirements, same-day registration, ballot collection methods, and drop boxes. The proposals in the ACE Act to limit options for voters to cast a ballot are regressive and run directly counter to the will of the residents of DC.
The League of Women Voters urges you to support the District’s autonomy and uphold the current election policies set by elected DC leaders by removing Subtitle C—Requirements For Elections In District Of Columbia from the ACE Act.
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