Hillary Clinton wants voting rights guaranteed

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Democrats and Republicans live in two separate universes when it comes to voting.

The narrower GOP voter base, which is older, whiter, and wealthier, is shrinking. The Democratic base, which looks more like a melting pot and includes more younger voters, black voters, and Hispanic voters, is growing. So Republicans persist in trying to find ways to make it harder to vote, cutting back days of early voting, passing restrictive voter ID laws, and even cutting the number of polling places and voting machines in heavier Democratic areas. The conservative U.S. Supreme Court basically gutted the Voting Rights Act, and Republicans in Congress don’t see any reason to take it up again.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has decided to make a stand against voting suppression and is calling for an expansion of voting rights. In a major speech at Texas Southern University in Houston, she called for major voting guarantees: 20 days of early, in-person voting; expansion of early, absentee, and mail voting; online voter registration; and universal, automatic voter registration when citizens turn 18. Just like they have in much of the rest of the world. Just like what is now law in Oregon, which is adding some 300,000 people to the voting rolls, and is being considered in California, which could add up to 6 million new voters.

Republicans continue to spread the myth of “voter fraud” to tamp down voters who might tend to vote for Democrats. But it’s just that — a myth.

A report titled “The Truth About Voter Fraud” from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law reiterated the fact that such claims are largely baseless. Such claims “reveal that voter fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly non-existent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators,” the report said.

The Washington Post went even further. It had a recent story that reported on “7 papers, 4 government inquiries, 2 news investigations and 1 court ruling proving voter fraud is mostly a myth.”

Here’s more information, from voterfraudfacts.com: “Out of the 197 million votes cast for federal candidates between 2002 and 2005, only 40 voters were indicted for voter fraud. Only 26 of those cases, or about .00000013 percent of the votes cast, resulted in convictions or guilty pleas,” the organization said.

Republicans trotted out the usual talking points, calling Clinton’s remarks “misleading and divisive.” Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is now an announced presidential candidate and signed a restrictive voter ID law in Texas as governor, think there’s nothing wrong with requirements to show an ID to vote — but only the right kind of ID. Got a gun license? You can vote. A student ID? Not so much.

As he told his chums on “Fox and Friends”: “When I got on the airline to come up here yesterday, I had to show my photo ID.” Except that there’s a constitutional right to vote, but not a constitutional right to fly.

Oops.

“We should be doing everything we can to get our young people more engaged in democracy, not less,” Clinton told the crowd at Texas Southern University. She spoke of her memories of the late Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas and how Jordan always spoke up for voting rights.

“I wish we could hear her speak up for the student who has to wait for hours for his or her right to vote,” Clinton said. “For the grandmother who’s turned away from the polls because her driver’s license expired. For the father who’s done his time and paid his debt to society but still hasn’t gotten his rights back.”

Between 6 percent and 11 percent of voting-age U.S. citizens don’t have a valid form of state ID, according to the Voter Fraud Facts organization. Roughly 2 percent of those without such IDs are registered voters. And the government-issued “free IDs” for non-drivers still require people to cough up money for certified copies of birth certificates or certified naturalization papers.

Yet Republicans still defend voter suppression tactics, of which Clinton gave many examples in her speech.

In South Carolina, the home of GOP presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham, “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.

“North Carolina passed a bill that went after pretty much anything that makes voting more convenient or more accessible. Early voting. Same-day registration. The ability of county election officials to even extend voting hours to accommodate long lines. Now what possible reason could there be to end pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and eliminate voter outreach in high schools?

“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.

“What part of democracy are they afraid of?” Clinton asked.

2 Comments on “Hillary Clinton wants voting rights guaranteed

  1. Sher, I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy reading your column. Especially ones like this.

    Mark

    Mark Wukas Department of English Head Boys Track & Field Coach New Trier Township High School 385 Winnetka Avenue Winnetka, IL 60093 847-784-7561 wukasm@newtrier.k12.il.us

    >

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