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Obama Calls For Voting Rights Reform On 50th Anniversary Of Historic Law

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Obama Calls For Voting Rights Reform On 50th Anniversary Of Historic Law

voting sign

President Obama called on Congress to pass “an updated version” of the Voting Rights Act during a speech on Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the passage of the historic federal law. He also urged Americans to exercise their right to vote, citing the forthcoming National Voter Registration Day on September 22.

The White House commemoration of the voting law — which sought to protect the constitutional right to vote from laws created to bar people of color from the polls, such as literacy tests and poll taxes — came a day after a U.S. appeals court ruled that a Texas law requiring voters to show authorized identification violated the Voting Rights Act through its “discriminatory effects.”

The president called on Congress to pass a new version of the Voting Rights Act that would correct some of the recent court rulings and actions by state legislatures that have weakened the enforcement of the original law.

“This has to be a priority. If this isn’t working, then nothing’s working,” Obama said.

“Too many states are making it harder for folks to vote,” the president added, citing how photo ID laws and restrictions on early voting disproportionately affect seniors and poor people.

The Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act in 2013. After the SCOTUS ruling, then-governor of Texas Rick Perry said in a statement that “Texas may now implement the will of the people without being subject to outdated and unnecessary oversight and the overreach of federal power,” referring to the Voting Rights Act’s overseeing of certain states’ voting laws.

On Thursday, countering what many conservatives call common-sense protections against voter fraud, Obama said voter fraud is too rare a crime to be fairly used as an argument in favor of laws that limit many eligible voters from casting ballots. “There are almost no instances of people going to vote in someone else’s name,” he said. “It’s not a common crime.”

The goal of these voter ID laws, the president stated, is “to make it harder for folks to vote.”

The president on Thursday said Americans should not tolerate laws that aim to disenfranchise their fellow citizens. “How can you rationalize making it harder for people to vote?” Obama said.

“State legislatures are making it deliberately harder for people to vote and some are not shy about saying so,” the president added.

In 2011, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker called a photo ID requirement he was signing into law “obviously special.”

In 1965, a few months after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led thousands from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, to protest legal barriers erected to prevent black people from voting, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act, which President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law on August 6, 1965.

“The struggle for the right to vote has been a long, tedious struggle for the soul of America,” John Lewis said, adding that the struggle continues today.

Recalling his time as a 25-year-old civil rights activist and witness of the signing of the Voting Rights Act on Capitol Hill, Lewis also spoke of the literacy tests, beating, arrests and even murders of black people attempting to exercise their right to vote.

“All across the American South it was almost impossible for people of color to register to vote,” Lewis said.

Despite the progress, Lewis said there’s a “deliberate, systematic effort” to make it more difficult for people of color, young people, poor people, seniors, and others to participate in the political system.

The president also made clear that low voter turnout rates in the United States are primarily due to citizens choosing not to exercise their right to vote, rather than being prevented from registering.

“Far more people disenfranchise themselves than any law does by not participating, by not getting involved,” Obama said.

Photo: Keith Ivey via Flickr



  1. Whatmeworry August 7, 2015

    Sorry Barak voter fraud is a huge problem. Over 4 MILLION illegals voted absentee in 2012 and 2008 that’s what you want to preserve

    1. Daniel Max Ketter August 7, 2015

      Why Mexican evacuees should be entitle to vote as well, unless you are a bigot. I’ll upvote you anyways for being a consistent moron.

    2. Staci Kittern Disbrow August 8, 2015

      I want to see your Vietnam War draft card, the one saying dan ketter is a p*ssy coward to serve his country in the military and he needs a school deferment like Bill Clinton to get his MBA. I wanna see it baby!

      1. idamag August 26, 2015

        And his figures about how many illegals voted is a lie. Lying seems to be prerequisite to belonging to the t-party.

    3. Whatmeworry August 8, 2015

      Sorry fat dan ketter voter fraud is a huge problem. Over 4 MILLION legally voted
      absentee in 2012 and 2008 that’s what you want to preserve

    4. Staci Kittern Disbrow August 9, 2015

      Dimwit troll dan pulled a Bill Clinton and avoided the draft with a deferment to stay in college during the Vietnam era, and is a military impostor pretending to be a retired Colonel and pilot who served in the Air Force. What a sad demented old man this retired automotive desk clerk really is baby!

      1. idamag August 16, 2015

        Anyone as stupid as whatmeworry is not worth reading or responding to.

        1. Staci Kittern Disbrow August 19, 2015

          whatmeworry(real name Dan M Ketter) is ignorant and shouldn’t be responded to, but it’s sure fun to trolling him[url=http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys.php][img]http://www.freesmileys.org/smileys/smiley-taunt006.gif[/img][/url]

          1. idamag August 20, 2015

            Used to be that people, who were not well read, were hesitant to show their ignorance when they were with well-read people. Now they think ignorance is a virtue.

          2. Staci Kittern Disbrow August 20, 2015

            Dan (aka Whatmeworry, Mandinka, Mandinka2, nofedjobs, and many others) does that quite well!

    5. Daniel Max Ketter September 4, 2015

      I’m old and fartalot, and my sweet dear linda rae fell off the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down

    6. Daniel Max Ketter September 8, 2015

      Dan Ketter is a fat sweaty idiot who walks funny, and has an ugly wifey Linda Rae

    7. Staci Kittern Disbrow November 2, 2015

      Fattt Dannn Ketttter

  2. idamag August 7, 2015

    Everyone’s right to vote should be guarded by everyone. The actual figures on voter fraud in a ten-year study was less than 1 percent. Voter fraud is a dragon dreamed up by fascist types to justify voter tampering. If photo ID is going to be required, then those who will have a hard time getting photo ID because of semantics or income should have one issued by the state. With the increase in population, keeping the polls open for weeks is more feasible. Every effort should be made to see that everyone, who has the right to vote – votes. Purging should be illegal. We have months to validate all the voters on the registration rolls. It looks pretty flaky when it is done just before the election. As for the poster who says 4 million illegals voted in absentee votes – funny I never saw those figures anywhere that was bona-fide. How about taking your hand out of your pocket and putting up some figures that can be proved by reliable sources? I know your kind. You come from the backward parts of your state where you learned to debate talking to cows and sheep and I am not sure which end.

    1. 2ThinkN_Do2 August 7, 2015

      The actual figures on voter fraud are less than 1%, based on a study that might be . . . fraudulent? I agree, everyone’s right to vote should be guarded, and Voter ID is such a guard.

      1. idamag August 31, 2015

        Read my excerpt from a news release, above. Voter ID is just a small part. What happened in Fulton County, Georgia has probably happened elsewhere.

  3. 2ThinkN_Do2 August 7, 2015

    If VOTER ID laws prohibit my right to vote; then Driver License requirements limit my ability to secure gainful employment, Firearms License limits my right to protect my life, Auto Insurance requirements limit my ability to drive to my work, which limits my ability to get to work in the vehicle I drive which prohibits my ability to make money, which leaves me no choice but to violate all sorts of laws with hopes I do not get caught before I can afford all those life restricting requirements.

    Answer this Mr Obama, how do you rationalize allowing people to vote that cannot prove they are who they are or if they are even a citizen? If they cannot prove who they are, how can they secure any benefits from the local, state or federal government? How can they get a job, driver license, secure a residence; ID is required for most everything and sometimes more than one form of ID. Why should a person be allowed to vote on the Honor system?

    1. tdm3624 August 14, 2015

      It’s a Constitutional right to vote and a Constitutional right to bear arms. Either we have photo ID for both or no photo ID for both.

    2. idamag August 16, 2015

      First, you don’t get excited until voter fraud happens. Second. You can bring a light bill to prove you are still at the address. third, if they really cared about voter fraud, I am sure they could check the voter rolls before election years. Fourth, you can drive the the DMV and get a drivers’ license. Some areas, like New York City, there are people who have never driven and don’t have a drivers license. There are elderly people who do not have the means to get voter ID. If they have the income that will prove the thirty dollars is a hardship or they are housebound, then if voter ID is required, it should be available to them. Fifth, The polls should be open more days to accommodate the increase in population. Sixth, illegals are known to play it real low key so as not to be noticed and deported. Seventh, mass purging should never be allowed. eighth, it looks real funny if the polls close early in some districts and not others. ninth, Purging should be illegal. Any violation of a franchised voter’s right should be punished.
      tenth, every voter in this country should care about every other franchised voter’s rights no matter his party or his race.

  4. tdm3624 August 14, 2015

    “Far more people disenfranchise themselves than any law does by not participating, by not getting involved,” Obama said.

    I agree.

    1. sue.hutchison September 6, 2015

      I want to show great work opportunity… three to five hours of work daily… Weekly paycheck… Bonus opportunities…Payscale of $6k to $9k /a month… Just few hours of your free time, any kind of computer, elementary understanding of web and stable connection is what is required…Get informed more about it ~by visiting my profile>page

  5. idamag August 27, 2015

    Fulton County, Georgia admitted to illegally disfranchising and misleading voters in the 2008 and 2012 elections in a settlement this month. For more than two dozen violations of state law – including improperly rejecting eligible ballots and sending voters to the wrong precincts – the country will pay a fine of $180,000. To make sure the problems do not continue in the future, the county will spend an additional $200,000 on new training software for poll workers. The country, which includes Atlanta, has a heavily African American population and leans progressive, voting overwhelmingly for President Obama in 2008 and 2012. As was detailed in the new settlement, county election officials misinformed the precincts of who was coming to vote and when, failed to provide absentee ballots to voters who requested them, and failed to put voters who registered on time on the rolls. The head of Fulton County’s elections was fired for refusing to cover up the improper purging of voters in 2012.

    Yet the problems facing voters of color in Georgia are not confined to Fulton County. When neighboring DeKalb County, another stronghold of African American Democrats, opened an early voting location in a popular mall, Georgia State Senator, Fran Miller (R) publicly lamented that “This location is dominated by African American shoppers and it is near several large African American mega churches.” He added, “I would prefer more educated voters than an increase in the number of voters.”

    So, you see, this is not just about photo ID.


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