U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) introduced legislation that would prohibit and penalize the knowing spreading of misinformation, such as incorrect polling locations, times, or the necessary forms of identification in order to suppress voter turnout, on Thursday, July 26.
“At a time when voting rights are being attacked and chipped away – from state legislatures to the Supreme Court – we’ve got to redouble our efforts to protect every Missourian’s right to vote,” McCaskill said. “Misinformation campaigns intended only to suppress the vote and disenfranchise Missourians are crimes that run counter to our democratic values, and the punishment for those actions should fit the crime.”
McCaskill’s bill, the Deceptive Practices and Voter Intimidation Prevention Act, which she introduced with U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Doug Jones (D-AL), and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) would prohibit and penalize intentionally and knowingly spreading misinformation to voters that are intended to suppress the vote, including the time and place of an election and restrictions on voter eligibility. The penalty for engaging in these deceptive acts would be a fine up to $100,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment.
McCaskill has been a longtime advocate for voting rights and has spoken out strongly against efforts to disenfranchise voters through voter photo ID laws that respond to know documented pattern of voter fraud, yet have the effect of making it harder for some populations – particularly minorities, seniors and youth – to vote.
“One out of five African American seniors in this country do not have the documentation because their mothers were not allow to deliver them in a hospital,” McCaskill said in 2008.
“Now really, do we really want to make these men and women whose parents were not allowed to give birth hospital because of the color of their skin, do we really want to make it harder for them to go and cast their vote in this grand and glorious democracy?”
In 2016, McCaskill expressed her outrage at an illegitimate change to federal voter registration forms in three states that could strip voting rights from tens of thousands of Americans by illegally requiring proof-of-citizenship documents.
McCaskill also supported the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2017, a bill that aims to restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – which was gutted by the 2013 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which led to several states passing sweeping voter suppression laws, disproportionately affecting minorities, the elderly, and youth.