Bill Clinton compares new voting laws to Jim Crow
July 6th, 2011
06:43 PM ET
3 years ago

Bill Clinton compares new voting laws to Jim Crow

Washington (CNN) – Former President Bill Clinton compared efforts by Republicans to change voting laws across the country to Jim Crow laws and poll taxes that historically disenfranchised African American voters.

Speaking before a group of liberal youth activists Wednesday, Clinton said laws in states like Florida and New Hampshire are aimed at limiting voter turnout and keeping young people from the ballot box.

"There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the voter Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit a franchise that we see today," Clinton said at Campus Progress's annual conference in Washington.

Jim Crow laws, enacted between 1876 and 1965, included fees and laws historically used to keep African-Americans from voting. Clinton said Republican governors and legislators are now trying to "keep most of you [young people] from voting next time."

"They [Republicans] are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate," Clinton added, referencing the dip in youth voter turnout in the 2010 elections. "Are you fighting? You should be fighting it."

Younger voters turned out at historic levels during the 2008 election helping propel Obama to the White House, but dropped off considerably in 2010.

Clinton was critical of regulations preventing same-day registration and specifically referenced Republican Florida Gov. Rick Scott's move in March to overturn a law that allowed convicted felons to vote after they completed their probation.

"Why should we disenfranchise people forever once they've paid their price?" Clinton said. "Because most of them in Florida were African Americans and Hispanics and would tend to vote for Democrats, that's why."

He also referred to a proposal in New Hampshire that would prevent college students from registering to vote where they attend school, instead of where they are from originally.

Democratic Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz made similar comments in June, calling attention to the Sunshine State effort. The Florida congresswoman told CNN contributor Roland Martin Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws" and block Democratic voters from the polls.

Schultz later said "Jim Crow was the wrong analogy to use."

Chris Jankowski, president of the Republican State Leadership Committee, said Clinton was using Schutlz's talking and points “owes an apology to Republican legislators that are seeking sensible steps to protect the integrity of elections in our country.”

“Maybe it was an attempt to distract from the Democrats’ abysmal record of tax hikes and shutdowns over spending cuts, or perhaps he was simply trying to be provocative while speaking to a super-liberal audience,” Jankowski said in a statement. “Either way, such rhetoric is out of bounds.”

– CNN's Rebecca Stewart contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Bill Clinton
soundoff (179 Responses)
  1. Eddie

    How long does it take?

    July 6, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  2. Henry Miller

    Personally, I'd limit the franchise to people who have at least graduated high school, who either support themselves or are an adult member of a family that supports itself, and who pay more in taxes than they receive in direct benefits. Letting parasites vote who live off other peoples' taxes is outrageous.

    July 6, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  3. MAC

    In NY a military dependent whose parent is on active duty, even if born in the state and graduated from high school in that state has to pay out of state tuition if the parents home of residency is not NY. Why should an out of state student paying out of state tuition be allowed to vote in the state they go to school. They can get an absentte ballot for their home state and still vote. I and my wife did it for my 20 years in the military. Just because you go to school in another state for 4-6 years your tuitipn is not going to be lowered to in state tuition rates.

    July 6, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  4. Albo58

    Pure race-baiting garbage by the convicted perjurer, Bill Clinton! If producing a valid I.D. in order to vote disenfranchises potential Dimwit voters, then so does buying alcohol, producing a driver's license when pulled by the cops, and producing some sort of identification in order to apply for government entitlement programs! Perhaps Clinton missed that part about voting "irregularities" in the past? Oh wait, those "irregularities" HELPED the Dimwits candidates!

    July 6, 2011 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  5. MiDon

    Problem is that the Repubs cannot stand in the light of the truth. Traditionally the GOP has stood for limiting enfranchiement caue when only the select few can vote the select few will vote Republican. The former Dixiecrats now loyal Republicans did that with Blacks and now when they tand to face the largest rejection of their misguided and failed policies, they want to limit so that only "the people in the know" will vote and the peasants stay away.

    July 6, 2011 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  6. laurence

    This isn't Jim Crow like. It is Jim Crow, just another version. Jankowski is out of his mind to say what he said. He owes [us] an apology! This isn't the Jim Crow era. I'm sure the response won't be the same.

    July 6, 2011 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  7. Rod from Indy

    The GOP is all about stealing elections. They are immoral and irrelevant. Time to end their party for good. How about a new one totally committed to the protection of the middle class?

    July 6, 2011 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  8. Hot Dog

    He is so right on this one. Between the changes in the voting laws and gerrymandering clearly demonstrates the short comings to the basic principle of voting. This is because the of the rapid change in the demographics withn the USA and the fact that more people are becoming educated than any other time in American history. This is the cancer that is currently eating at the core of American politics. Just look at all of the ignorance that has been demonstrated since the election of our current President. American still has a long way to go!

    July 6, 2011 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  9. darla

    This is outrageous the youth has much right to have more say on how they vote after all this is their future. The Republicans are always decrying about the founding fathers and the constitution but they're the first one to go against it. i hope it backfires on them like everything they carelessly and selfishly do. They always act irrationally and stupidly without thinking of the outcome.

    July 6, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  10. Billl C

    President Clinton is right. These are advantages to stop voters from voting. And what does the GOP and Tea Party know about stopping the government. They tried it on Bill, and he crushed them. Plus he and Newt were paying off the debt. Only to Bush come in and wreck it all to hell borrowing for two wars and more.

    July 6, 2011 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  11. dee321

    President Clinton is right. Repubs are up to their dirty tricks again. They will do ANYTHING to eliminate Democratic voters. We also need to watch for Voting Maching tampering. (e.g.: Florida 2000 redux)

    July 7, 2011 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  12. Charlie from the North

    He is absolutely right.
    We actually have a GOPer Governor in my state who told the NAACP to "kiss his butt" Not ony racist but quite un-classy as well.

    July 7, 2011 08:18 am at 8:18 am |
  13. Anders Perillo

    Is it desenfranchising when clerks have to see ID to purchase alcohol or tobacco? What's the problem then, requiring ID at the polls to ensure only eligible voters are voting? Spare us the demagoguing. You're only looking to protect your illegal voter base. The Democrat Party: Masters of voter fraud.

    July 7, 2011 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  14. bayou2

    Bill has it spot on, Jim Crow.
    The great republican party-tea contol, when will they start removing people from their homes in the night.
    Everything the reps. say and do looks and sound like Germany 1928. Who will be their Hilter, will he be the next President?
    Hilter was taking his country back also!!!!!

    July 7, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  15. BEn275

    Clinton is telling the truth

    July 7, 2011 08:23 am at 8:23 am |
  16. Frank Tillery

    Institutionalized discrimination has always been a tool for those who cannot or will not face the realization that we are all Americans. If you do not have policies or practices that attract those who may oppose you, then you resort to legal or other tactics that prohibit freedoms that we are all guaranteed by the Constitution. It has been done throughout our history by Republican and Democrats alike. Perhaps it is true that great civilizations are usually destroyed from within...

    Frank Tillery – One of U.S.

    July 7, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  17. BD70

    Out of bounds? I think not. If the shoe fits wear it.

    July 7, 2011 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  18. twiddly

    If the majority of ex-felons were older white males it is a given that the republicans would make sure they could vote. This is clearly just racist partisanship.

    July 7, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  19. RWB1956

    Gee, what a shock! Ever since a black man was elected POTUS, some people in this country have slipped a cog. Hate to tell you this, but one day there will be another black POTUS and one day a Hispanic POTUS. Best get ya' mind right.

    July 7, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  20. DeDee

    Why should we be afraid to call it what it is. The Republicans do not want a fair playing field, they want the advantage and the best way to do that is to keep the masses down.

    July 7, 2011 08:30 am at 8:30 am |
  21. Canadian Jim

    Clinton, as always is bang on in his assessment of what the Republicans are trying to do. Once again, their interests are not the American people, all of the American people. Their actions are often repulisvely un-American.

    July 7, 2011 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  22. NoGovtBondage

    Clinton – Obama – and all the rest of the progressive liberals – REALLY need to give this racial bomb throwing a rest. If you look at the record – Republicans have done more regarding breakthrough initiatives and laws for black people than the Democrats....

    Martin Luther King Jr was a Republican.
    Our voter registration and election laws are flawed – and need to be corrected....

    Only living authentic US citizens are allowed to vote in US elections......Period.

    July 7, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  23. Had ENOUGH CHANGE yet???

    Playing the race card... the last refuge of a scoundrel. Democrats are committed to undermining the integrity of our elections any way they can. With elections getting closer andcloser, they are clearly hoping to steal some of them with voter fraud. Could this be any clearer?

    July 7, 2011 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  24. Any thing for a buck - GOPers

    Clinton is correct. These racist Governors and AG like the pea-brained radical pair we have in Virginia are pushing religious and social bigotry with their policies of corporate greed are suppressing votes of the middle class and working families under the GOP lie of voter fraud.
    As usual in Virginia McDonnell and Cuccinelli campaigned that they were moderates who were going to fix our state's economy and increase employment but all they have done is take away the rights and civil liberties of Virginians and anyone who passes through what used to be a free state.

    July 7, 2011 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  25. Rudy NYC

    edbonflo wrote:
    Has ex-President Clinton looked at how many convicted felons there are that are white versus the two minority groups he singled out?
    --------------Have you bothered to look? If you had you would not be asking that question, nor make some of your other statements.

    College students typically vote on their college campuses, using their college IDs. Laws are being passed that say that college IDs are not state issued, therefore invalid. Other laws state that the students cannot vote in precinct where their school is located because they are not residents.

    July 7, 2011 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
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