AFT Resolution


WHEREAS, in the last several years there have been numerous attacks on the voting rights of Americans; and

WHEREAS, these attacks have been premised on the false claims that America is threatened with high levels of voter fraud; and

WHEREAS, the attacks have been conducted particularly through voter ID laws which are publicly acknowledged voter suppression laws, and also through other suppression and disenfranchisement strategies that include, but are not limited to, the reduction of early voting days and times, insufficient or outdated and malfunctioning voting machines, biased and unlawful purging of voter rolls, specifically focused barriers to registration and more; and

WHEREAS, studies by nonpartisan organizations such as Judicial Watch and the Brennan Center for Justice have indicated that the majority of these laws and strategies disproportionately affect the elderly, poor, minorities and young people and include, but are not limited to, a disproportionate number of provisionary and discarded ballots, voting machine malfunctions, incorrect voter notification, high numbers of flipped votes and lost ballots; and

WHEREAS, investigations have indicated that the majority of voting machines are owned by private companies that have publicly declared their allegiance to a single political party, and that the dangers of hacking such machines has been proven to be high, according to research; and

WHEREAS, the actions taken to suppress votes have been led in large part by organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the far-right corporate collaborative led by the Koch brothers, with resources to contribute to this movement being in the millions of dollars, risking the undue control of our nation by a few wealthy individuals rather than the democratic whole of our society;

WHEREAS, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had sections declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013; and

WHEREAS, most of the Voting Rights Act was found to be constitutional by the same U.S. Supreme Court; and

WHEREAS, the key provisions struck down by the Supreme Court dealt with the ability of the federal government through the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene in cases where states denied citizens the right to vote; and

WHEREAS, these same citizens are not only citizens of their respective states but also citizens of the United States, according to the 14th Amendment:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers and its affiliates go on record in support of actions that help ensure that voting is "free, fair and accessible for all Americans," that the voting processes in America which are flawed are corrected, including, but not limited to, such concerns as ensuring:

  • Purges of voter rolls that do not disenfranchise legally registered voters;
  • Protection from use of privately owned and controlled voting machines with insufficient safeguards against hacking;
  • Equal and easy access to voting, including, but not limited to, working and updated voting machines with paper records, locations near voters' homes, comfortable voting locations for all voters, and early voting times and days;
  • Consistency in standards across the nation in guidelines that protect voters' rights, provide freedom from harassment at the polls and reduce long lines for voters;
  • Protection from any efforts to rig the Electoral College or other gerrymandering;
  • Modernizing voter registration to reduce dangers of misspelling, wrong addresses and legal name changes;
  • Ease in registering citizens to vote and protection against unreasonable obstructions to registration;
  • Protection against misleading or biased information being distributed to voters by state or local governments;
  • Sufficient lead times in any changes in voting times, locations, procedures, or other regulations and rules governing voting so that the courts can examine the changes as appropriate to their purview, and the voters have sufficient notice of the changes, and the changes do not affect their right to vote; and

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers propose that both houses of Congress adopt a Voting Rights Act which fundamentally restores the powers of the federal government declared invalid in Section 4b by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.