Proposed Bill Would Make it a Crime to Knowingly Mislead Voters About an Election
In every election cycle, there are a flurry of political dirty tricks employed by campaign operatives to mislead voters about the election. In the case of the recent election in Wisconsin, voters were called and told that if they’d already signed the recall petition, then their vote had been cast. In other instances, tricksters call voters and give them the wrong day to cast their ballot, or tell immigrants that immigration officials will be at the polls to harass them. Either way, it’s a tool for disenfranchisement that gets employed every election cycle. But newly introduced legislation seeks to change that:
Sens. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who introduced the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act in December, said the bill would help to prevent deliberately misleading mailers and phone calls in the run-up to an election, which Schumer called part of “a larger strategy to keep certain voters away from the polls.”
If it becomes law, individuals found to have deliberately misled voters would face a prison term of up to five years. State attorneys general would also be empowered to quickly respond with accurate information in cases where populations have been targeted with misleading claims. It would also amend the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to prohibit paying people to stay home on election day.
There’s no way to know if this legislation will pass, but it certainly is warranted.
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