President Barack Obama is right to accuse Republicans of using voting restrictions to keep voters from the polls.
In his speech last week at the National Action Network conference, the president gave an unsparing but accurate critique of Republican attempts to restrict voting through new voter identification laws, restricting early voting periods and eliminating same day registration efforts.
“The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades,” Obama said.
While Republicans immediately criticized the president for his comments, the remarks need to be made. The GOP must be exposed for using desperate attempts to win elections.
Republicans claim new the voting laws guard against voter fraud, but they are really partisan attempts to limit Democratic turnout.
There are reasonable ways to secure the integrity of the voting process that does not have the effect of restricting voting. The GOP’s efforts are making it more difficult to vote by requiring voter identification that millions of Americans don’t have and reducing the time for early registration and voting.
Across the country Republican-led legislatures including Pennsylvania have led effort to pass laws making it harder for people to vote.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law reports that just last year, seven states passed voter restrictions laws, ranging from more restrictive voter identification and reductions in early voting periods.
These new voting laws have emerged despite the fact that there is no evidence of voter fraud being a significant problem in America.
The president has it right when he said: “So let’s be clear. The real voter fraud is people who try to deny our rights by making bogus arguments about voter fraud.”
These new laws began take effect after the Supreme Court last June threw out the crucial section of the Voting Rights Act that required that all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting, mainly in the South, get federal approval before changing their election laws.
Voters should not allow these new laws to deter them. Voters should make every attempt to comply with obtain required voter identification, register and vote despite these new measures.
It is encouraging to see that the Democratic National Committee recently launched the Voter Expansion Project, which aims to push back against restrictive voting laws by registering new voters and supporting laws that expand access to the ballot.
Voters should also urge their congressperson and senator to support bipartisan legislation that would strengthen the Voting Rights Act in the wake of Supreme Court ruling.