Saturday, October 17, 2015

Hillary Fights Back in Alabama: "This is a blast from the Jim Crow Past"

Hillary Clinton is on fire in Alabama, calling out its GOP leadership's attacks on voting rights, while also raising money for the Alabama Democratic Conference, which focuses on increasing Democratic turnout among minorities in the traditionally red state.  

The Hill reports:
Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton on Saturday accused Alabama lawmakers of advancing “discriminatory” laws to roll back voting rights, as she looks to shore up support with black voters.
In her first visit to Alabama as a presidential candidate, Clinton elevated her call for voting rights as she condemned the state’s decision last week to close 31 driver’s license offices. Nearly all of the offices were in predominantly black neighborhoods. She urged Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Republican-controlled legislature to keep the offices open, and “not just for one day a month."
“Here in Alabama, without the right kind of ID, it’s nearly impossible to vote,” she said as the packed room boomed with applause.
“It’s hard to believe we are back having this same debate about whether every American gets a chance to vote,” she declared, raising her voice as the cheers grew louder.
“This is a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Alabama’s decision to shutter driver’s license offices – which the governor said is a result of budget cuts – has drawn attention nationwide because of the state’s strict voter ID law passed last year.
Democrats have claimed the decision is politically driven because each of the closures takes place in neighborhoods with populations that are at least 75 percent black.
Clinton described the law as "discriminatory and demeaning” – and one which should be repealed.
In Alabama and across the country, Clinton said states should do more to make it easier to vote. She pointed to efforts by states like Oregon, which recently made voter registration automatic for anyone who receives a driver’s license.
She also called for early voting days, weekend and evening voting, and restoring the voting rights of former convicts who have “done their time.”
WBAL reports:
Speaking at Alabama Democratic Conference's Convention, Clinton called the plan "a blast from the Jim Crow past" and asked for Bentley and the Republican-controlled legislature "to not only listen to their constituents, but listen to their consciences."
"We have to defend the most fundamental right in our democracy, the right to vote," Clinton said.
"No one in this state, no one, should ever forget the history that enabled generations of people left out and left behind to finally be able to vote."
Democrats have charged that the governor's decision to close identification offices is politically motivated due to the state's strict voter identification laws and will disproportionately affect African-American voters.
Clinton also nationalized the state issue, hitting Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich -- all Republicans running for president -- for their positions on voting rights.
"What part of democracy are these Republicans so afraid of?" Clinton asked, noting that Bush said he would not reauthorize the Voting Rights Act and Kasich ended early voting after the 2008 election.
"This is wrong," Clinton said.
"Fifty years after Rosa Parks sat and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. marched and John Lewis bled, it is hard to believe we are back having this same debate about whether or not every American gets a chance to vote and exercise his rights."
CNN reports:
Clinton has made voting rights a cornerstone of her six-month-old presidential campaign. Clinton told an audience at the historically black Texas Southern University in June that she supports the concept of signing up every American to vote as soon as they're eligible at age 18, unless they specifically opt out.
She called for expanded access to polling places, keeping them open for at least 20 days and offering voting hours on evenings and weekends.
Saturday will also not be the first time Clinton politicizes her voting rights call.
The first time Clinton attacked Republicans by name was the same June speech, when the Democratic front-runner hit Texas's Rick Perry, Wisconsin's Scott Walker, Florida's Jeb Bush and New Jersey's Chris Christie, calling for them to "stop fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of voter fraud."
Her sweeping voting rights plan can be found on her campaign website:
Repairing the Voting Rights Act. Congress should move quickly to pass legislation that would fix the damage done to the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court and restore the full protections American voters need and deserve. These protections are crucial for young and minority voters, seniors, and other underrepresented groups disproportionately affected by harmful Republican efforts to restrict voting.
Setting a new national standard for early voting. It’s time to set a standard across our country of at least 20 days of early in-person voting, including opportunities for evening and weekend voting. This will reduce long lines and give more people an opportunity to vote, especially those who have work or family obligations during the day. Early in-person voting isn’t just convenient—it’s also more secure, more reliable, and more affordable than absentee voting.
Implementing universal, automatic voter registration. Every citizen in every state should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18, unless they choose to opt out. At the same time, we need to make sure that registration rolls are secure, up to date, and accurate. When you move, your registration should move with you. Modernizing registration will add tens of millions of voters to the rolls, cost less, and reduce the potential for errors or irregularities.

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