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DeForest Soaries

I started out as a 16 year old registering people to vote.

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Voting is the foundational act that breathes life into the principle of the consent of the governed.

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And when people in power can stay in power they do very little to tinker with the apparatus that put them in power.

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When public access to voting is impaired or when public confidence in voting is diluted, democracy suffers and our freedom is less secure.

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My sense was that most of the elected officials in Washington - in their heart of hearts - really believe that the system can't be too bad because it produced them.

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I was the Secretary of State of New Jersey in November 2000. I paid careful attention to the challenges that stemmed from inadequate voting systems in various places.

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We have no basis for having a recall of any particular type of voting equipment because there are no standards. And when we do have standards, even these standards are required to be voluntary.

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When Congress passed the Help America Vote Act in 2002, I was thrilled to learn that the federal government would offer resources to all states to assist them in enhancing the voting process in America.

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It's an embarrassment that we don't have a broad enough consensus among political leaders that true reform should take place. I could count the members of Congress on one hand that took these issues seriously.

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The Election Assistance Commission represents a major, unprecedented commitment from the federal government to sustained freedom and vibrant democracy. I am humbled by the prospect of being one its charter members.

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