Hillary Clinton goes big and bold for voting rights

Earlier this year I posted that Hillary Clinton supports the Move to Amend movement:

A major theme of the Hillary Clinton campaign is the Move to Amend movement for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. FEC and its progeny?  “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me. Aren’t you?”

Apparently so. Hillary Clinton says she would support a constitutional amendment on campaign finance reform:

Hillary Rodham Clinton is calling for changes to the nation’s campaign finance system, saying here Tuesday that she would support a constitutional amendment if that’s what it takes to fix what she called a “dysfunctional” system.

Yesterday Hillary Clinton went to Southern University in Houston, Texas, to accept an award in the honor of the late Congresswoman Barbara Jordan, and to deliver a major speech on voting rights. Clinton made several proposals for which I have been advocating for years. “Oh, Mrs. Robinson, you ARE trying to seduce me!”

Screenshot from 2015-06-05 12:49:52

The full video of the speech is available on C-SPAN and can be accessed by CLICKING HERE. Hillary for America also released a fact sheet about voting rights.

Here are some excerpts from the transcript of yesterday’s speech:

[S]ince the Supreme Court eviscerated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, many of the states that previously faced special scrutiny because of a history of racial discrimination have proposed and passed new laws that make it harder than ever to vote.

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And we need look no further than right here in Texas. You all know this far better than I, but if you want to vote in this state, you can use a concealed weapon permit as a valid form of identification—but a valid student ID isn’t good enough?

Now, Krystal Watson found out the hard way. She grew up in Louisiana but came to Marshall, Texas, to attend Wiley College. Krystal takes her responsibilities as a citizen so seriously that not only did she register to vote in Texas, where she was living and would be for a number of years, she even became a deputy registrar to help other people vote as well. But this past year, when she showed up at her local polling place with a Wiley College ID, she was turned away.

Experts estimate that hundreds of thousands of registered voters in Texas may face similar situations.

And while high-profile state laws like those in Texas and North Carolina get most of the attention, many of the worst offenses against the right to vote actually happen below the radar. Like when authorities shift poll locations and election dates. Or scrap language assistance for non-English speakers—something Barbara Jordan fought so hard for.

Without the pre-clearance provisions of the Voting Rights Act, no one outside the local community is likely to ever hear about these abuses, let alone have a chance to challenge them and end them.

It’s not a surprise for you to hear that studies and everyday experiences confirm that minority voters are more likely than white voters to wait in long lines at the polls. They are also far more likely to vote in polling places with insufficient numbers of voting machines.

In South Carolina, for example, there’s supposed to be one machine for every 250 voters. But in minority areas, that rule is just often overlooked. In Richland Country, nearly 90 percent of the precincts failed to meet the standard required by law in 2012. Instead of 250 voters per machine, in one precinct it was more than 430 voters per machine. Not surprisingly, people trying to cast a ballot there faced massive delays.

Now there are many fair-minded, well-intentioned election officials and state legislators all over this country. But this kind of disparity that I just mentioned does not happen by accident.

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Well, all of these problems with voting did not just happen by accident. And it is just wrong, it’s wrong to try to prevent, undermine, inhibit Americans’ rights to vote. Its counter to the values we share. And at a time when so many Americans have lost trust in our political system, it’s the opposite of what we should be doing in our country.

This is the greatest, longest-lasting democracy in the history of the world. We should be clearing the way for more people to vote, not putting up every roadblock anyone can imagine.

Yet unfortunately today, there are people who offer themselves to be leaders whose actions have undercut this fundamental American principle.

Here in Texas, former Governor Rick Perry signed a law that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters. He applauded when the Voting Rights Act was gutted, and said the lost protections were “outdated and unnecessary.”

But Governor Perry is hardly alone in his crusade against voting rights.

In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote.

In New Jersey, Governor Christie vetoed legislation to extend early voting.

And in Florida, when Jeb Bush was governor, state authorities conducted a deeply flawed purge of voters before the presidential election in 2000.

Thankfully in 2004 a plan to purge even more voters was headed off.

So today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of?

I believe every citizen has the right to vote. And I believe we should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote.

I call on Republicans at all levels of government with all manner of ambition to stop fear mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they’re so scared of letting citizens have their say.

* * *

[A]s a Senator, I championed a bill called the Count Every Vote Act. If it had become law, it would have made Election Day a federal holiday and mandated early voting opportunities. Deceiving voters, including by sending flyers into minority neighborhoods with false voting times and places, would have become a federal crime. And many Americans with criminal convictions who had paid their debts to society would have finally gotten their voting rights back.

Well today, with the damage to the Voting Rights Act so severe, the need for action is even more urgent.

First, Congress should move quickly to pass legislation to repair that damage and restore the full protections that American voters need and deserve.

I was in the Senate in 2006 when we voted 98 to zero to reauthorize the Voting Rights Act after an exhaustive review process.

There had been more than 20 hearings in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees. Testimony from expert witnesses. Investigative reports documenting continuing discrimination in covered jurisdictions. There were more than 15,000 pages of legislative record. Now that is how the system is supposed to work. You gather the evidence, you weigh it and you decide. And we did 98 to nothing. We put principle ahead of politics. That is what Congress needs to do again.

Second, we should implement the recommendations of the bipartisan presidential commission to improve voting. That commission was chaired by President Obama’s campaign lawyer and by Governor Mitt Romney campaign’s lawyer. And they actually agreed. And they set forth common sense reforms, including expanding early, absentee, and mail voting. Providing online voter registration. Establishing the principle that no one should ever have to wait more than 30 minutes to cast your vote.

Third, we should set a standard across our country of at least 20 days of early in-person voting everywhere—including opportunities for weekend and evening voting. If families coming out of church on Sunday before an election are inspired to go vote, they should be free to do just that. And we know that early in-person voting will reduce those long lines and give more citizens the chance to participate, especially those who have work or family obligations that make it difficult to get to the polls on Election Day.

It’s not just convenient—it’s also more secure, more reliable, and more affordable than absentee voting. So let’s get this done.

And I believe we should go even further to strengthen voting rights in America. So today I am calling for universal, automatic voter registration. Every citizen, every state in the Union. Everyone, every young man or young woman should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18—unless they actively choose to opt out. But I believe this would have a profound impact on our elections and our democracy. Between a quarter and a third of all eligible Americans remain unregistered and therefore unable to vote.

And we should modernize our entire approach to registration. The current system is a relic from an earlier age. It relies on a blizzard of paper records and it’s full of errors.

We can do better. We can make sure that registration rolls are secure, up to date, and complete. When you move, your registration should move with you. If you are an eligible vote and want to be registered, you should be a registered voter—period.

Now, Oregon is already leading the way modernizing its system, and the rest of the country should follow. The technology is there. States have a lot of the data already. It’s just a matter of syncing and streamlining.

Now, all of these reforms, from expanded early voting to modernized registration, are common sense ways to strengthen our democracy. But I’ll be candid here, none of them will come easily.

It’s going to take leadership at many levels.

Now more than ever, we need our citizens to actually get out and vote for people who want to hear what is on their minds.

We need more activists working to expose abuses, educate Americans about their rights, and hold authorities accountable for protecting them. Some of the worst provisions in recent laws have been blocked or delayed by tireless advocates raising the alarm and filing legal challenges. But they can’t do it alone.

We need more grassroots mobilization efforts like the Moral Monday movement in North Carolina to build momentum for reform.

We need more Justices on the Supreme Court who will protect every citizen’s right to vote, I mean the principle underlying our Constitution, which we had to fight for a long time to make apply to everybody, one person, one vote and we need a Supreme Court that cares more about protecting the right to vote of a person than the right to buy and election of a corporation.

In addition, the Democratic Party is preparing to wage a national legal battle against GOP state-level voter suppression tactics. Democrats Wage a National Fight Over Voter Rules:

Democrats allied with Hillary Rodham Clinton are mounting a nationwide legal battle 17 months before the 2016 presidential election, seeking to roll back Republican-enacted restrictions on voter access that Democrats say could, if unchallenged, prove decisive in a close campaign.

The court fights began last month with lawsuits filed in Ohio and Wisconsin, presidential battleground states whose governors are likely to run for the Republican nomination. Now, Democrats are attacking a host of measures, including voter identification requirements that they consider onerous, time restrictions imposed on early voting that they say could make it difficult to cast ballots the weekend before Election Day, and rules that could nullify ballots cast in the wrong precinct [the”right church, wrong pew” rule in Ohio.]

The effort, which is being led by a lawyer whose clients include Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, reflects an urgent practical need, Democrats say: to get litigation underway early enough so federal judges can be persuaded to intervene in states where Republicans control legislatures and governor’s offices. But Republicans dismiss it as little more than a publicity gambit to energize minority voters in support of Democratic candidates.

A similar lawsuit was begun last year in North Carolina. Other potential fronts in the pre-emptive legal offensive, Democrats say, could soon be opened in Georgia, Nevada and the increasingly critical presidential proving ground of Virginia.

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Democrats seeking office at every level in 2016 could gain if lawsuits in their states are successful. But Mrs. Clinton, who has a wide lead in public polls, is certain to benefit if she is the party’s nominee.

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According to the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, there are 14 states with new voter laws in place for the first time in a national race.

The lawsuits filed in Ohio and Wisconsin, like the 2014 North Carolina case, were brought by lawyers including Marc Elias, a leading Democratic lawyer on voter protection issues who represents four of the party’s national campaign committees.

Mr. Elias is also the general counsel for Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, and her aides have spoken favorably of the lawsuits.

* * *

Mr. Elias suggested that the litigation was simply common sense. “We should all want to ensure that all eligible voters can exercise their right to vote and have their vote counted,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that some Republicans see a benefit in making it harder for people to vote.”

Join the battle for voter rights. Contact your local Democratic Party office today.

3 responses to “Hillary Clinton goes big and bold for voting rights

  1. Politically speaking, there aren’t many things more humorous than a Clinton talking about voter reform. It reminds me of the old dime mystery novels where the bad guy scrawles on a mirror, “Stop me before I kill again”.

  2. Why don’t we already have automatic voter registration when people turn 18?

    One of our often-used excuses for going to war is to “make the world safe for democracy”– elsewhere. In selected states in the US, the ruling Republicans have done everything they can to suppress voting and thwart democracy.

  3. captain*arizona

    Clinton are smart. Citizenship for immigrants. Voting rights. Black lives matter. These trump e-mails benghazi and clinton foundation with people who are going to vote Mrs. Clinton.