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.