Clinton goes big on voting rights

I like the sound of this.

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Still the only voter ID anyone should need

Accusing Republicans of a systematic effort to undercut voter access to the ballot box, Hillary Clinton called for expansive reforms to U.S. election laws in a speech Thursday. The front-runner for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination also called out four potential Republican opponents — including former Texas Gov. Rick Perry — for what she called a “crusade against voting rights.”

“We have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country, because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people,” said Clinton. Speaking at historically black Texas Southern University, the former secretary of state criticized states like Texas for tightening election laws through voter identification and preregistration requirements.

“Since 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,” she said.

The 2013 Texas voter ID law, considered the toughest in the nation, was signed by Perry, who launched his second bid for the White House near Dallas a few hours before Clinton took the stage in Houston.

Clinton took aim at Perry directly Thursday — along with fellow current or former Republican governors Chris Christie of New Jersey, Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Jeb Bush of Florida.

“Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting. What part of democracy are they afraid of?” she said.

To help cut down on long lines and generally make it easier to cast a ballot, Clinton proposed requiring at least 20 days of in-person early voting in every state, including on weekends and evenings. She also called for universal automatic voter registration of U.S. citizens when they turn 18.

In Texas, state law now allows in-person early voting for two weeks, and weekend voting is not always guaranteed, depending on the size of the county and other factors.

As noted in TPM, this was more red meat than policy proposal, but there’s no question that Republican legislatures around the country have taken aim at voting rights in a variety of ways. Seems to me a part of the problem is that the right to vote was never enshrined in the Constitution; it’s a lot harder to put restrictions on anything like that. In the short run, the main thing to take away from this is the message, which is squarely aimed at the kind of voters Hillary Clinton wants to turn out in big numbers next year. Expect to hear a lot more of this going forward. Daily Kos and Political Animal have more.

UPDATE: More from Texas Leftist.

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3 Responses to Clinton goes big on voting rights

  1. Mainstream says:

    This is just irresponsible pandering. A lengthy early voting period distorts the campaigns, with many voters casting a ballot before the news media devotes attention to candidates, and many ballots already cast prior to some revelation about a candidate becoming known. The cost of a 20 day early ballot period is absurd. It would be better to declare Election Day a national holiday, or to expand access by allowing voters to vote at any polling place within the county on election day, allowing them to vote closer to their workplaces.

    I have yet to find a voter in my precinct who lacks proper ID, or for whom the ID requirement has been the least burden.

  2. brad says:

    Let me guess… it is okay for absentee voting more than 20 days before an election…right?

    And thank you for your exhaustive research to find any voters in your precinct that lacks proper ID. Can you share you research sampling and methodology?

    What is the absurd cost for the 20 day early voting period for a general election versus the cost for the primary and primary run-off voting in March and April/May that are paid by all taxpayers for independent parties? I’d love to see the bellyaching of Republicans (and Democrats) pay for their own primaries. Talk about subsidies and sucking from the govt teet.

    Can you share with me why it is unreasonable for a candidate who has been declared for 11 months and the primary elected and known party candidate for 6 months not to deserve an early vote 20 days before the election by an informed voter based on the candidate’s record/resume/platform and not the off chance that sensationalistic “revelation” may come up days before the election?

    “irresponsible”…I’ll say!

  3. Mainstream says:


    I don’t have a strong view on how long the absentee voting period should be. The overwhelming majority of those voters are just over-65s voting from home, but if you were a Peace Corps volunteer in a remote location in Guinea with only weekly mail service (as a friend of mine was), then you might need every bit of 20 days to get your ballot in.

    In the last election a group called VoteRiders used the data assembled by the lawyers who sued the State of Texas over the voter ID issue to put together lists of voters who needed assistance to correct some gap in adequate ID. They were unable to provide even a single name to me in my precinct. Working the polls on election day, no problems have arisen. The most common ID issue is a wife with some ID in maiden name and a voter registration in a married name, or vice versa.

    One approach to reducing the cost of primaries and run-offs might be to use the instant run-off system by which voters rank the candidates in order of preference, with their second choice votes being allocated among the others if their first choice does not get into the top two.

    I wish I shared your optimism that the voters who show up during early voting (or election day) are well-educated, and fully prepared to cast a ballot for the 100 or 150 names on their ballot. In 1984 I had a woman ask me why Gerald Ford was not on her ballot, and I have had lots of voters ask me how to vote a straight ticket in the city of Houston elections.

    My judgment is that 20 days is way too long, and that many voters wait until the last week to research or pay attention. Last minute revelations are not so infrequent, or more accurately last minute attention to such revelations. Clayton Williams, Sheriff Thomas, Lena Guerrero, even the George W. Bush DWI report come to mind.

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