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ACLU of Virginia Warns of Political Interference

Anita Kumar

The ACLU of Virginia sent letters today to housing authorities across the state, warning them not to prevent political campaigners from going door to door to distribute literature, talk with residents or register people to vote.

The letters, sent to administrators at all 28 housing authorities in the state, were prompted by the actions of the Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority, which blocked political campaigners from going door to door at its housing projects.

ACLU of Virginia Executive Director Kent Willis said the First Amendment protects both the right of campaigners to go door to door in public housing projects and the right of tenants to receive information about registering to vote and political campaigns.

"Just because people live in public housing does not mean they can be cut off from political debate," Willis said. "Public housing tenants have exactly the same rights as everyone else to be involved in our democracy, and housing authority officials violate the First Amendment when they block political campaigning and registration efforts at their doorsteps."

The letter, which cites a U. S. Supreme Court case affirming the First Amendment right to canvass, says the ACLU will consider a lawsuit on behalf of canvassers or tenants if need be.

By Anita Kumar  |  July 31, 2008; 1:13 PM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Election 2008/Congress , Election 2008/Local , Election 2008/President , Election 2008/U.S. Senate  
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