Obama’s options on voting rights and delays
February 12th, 2013
02:22 PM ET
2 years ago

Obama’s options on voting rights and delays

(CNN) – 102-year-old Desiline Victor is among first lady Michelle Obama's guests at the State of the Union Tuesday - and her example is meant to drive home President Barack Obama's commitment to protecting voting rights made during his inaugural address. In that speech he said, "Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote."

Victor, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Haiti, waited in line for three hours to cast an early vote ballot in Florida. According to voting rights advocates who know Victor's story, when she returned later in the day other people in line urged election officials to get her in to vote. It was her second time filling out a ballot since she became a citizen in 2005.

The president's power to alter voting practices is limited. Only Congress has the power to create national standards. Voting rights advocates are calling for uniform rules around early voting, voter identification laws and means of registration but this cannot be done by executive action.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a challenge to the Voting Rights Act this month, which could allow states to make voting more restrictive.

The president will announce the creation of a bipartisan election assistance commission to suggest voting standards to improve voting access and cut down on wait times, according to a Demcorat aware of the speech.

An MIT Survey of the Performance of American Elections found that blacks and Hispanics waited almost twice as long to vote as whites in the 2012 election. Lines were longer in cities and in the South. A study conducted by the Orlando Sentinel and Ohio State University professor Theodore Allen showed 200,000 voters in Florida gave up on trying to vote out of frustration over long waits.

"These problems could be fixed with federal voting standards, including early voting and modernized registration, to ensure that elections are free, fair and accessible," Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of Advancement Project said. "Currently we have 13,000 different jurisdictions who run elections 13,000 different ways."

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Nothing...and I mean NOTHING...will make the GOP/Teatrolls go more ballistic than a black POTUS attempting to fix these problems after the GOP/Teatrolls twice got trounced by every major voting bloc, except white men, voting for him. This is tantamount to a declaration of the "race war" they've longed for and that helps sell so many guns to white male southerners.

    February 12, 2013 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  2. jkane sfl the gop national disgrace party will be swept out like the trash they are in2014 ?

    Come to Florida and look up the gop fool and stooge Nathan sproul ,who the gop rnc hired to disinfranchice dem voters to try to fix the elections for romney the tax cheat ,Scott and the gop in Florida will pay with their jobs in the mid terms . Remember the lines, gop voters were in them to . Morons !!!!!

    February 12, 2013 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Gregory M. Newbold

    The SOTU address is a rare opportunity for the President to address vast numbers of the American public. I hope he takes the opportunity to point out the threats to representative democracy: gerry-mandering, electoral college tampering, voter suppression, record Senate fillibustering, even the Hassert Rule that Boehner has applied in bringing Republican_only favored legislation to the House floor for a vote.

    Most Americans don`t following things close enough to know of these tactic and they need to be exposed. The media has not done it`s job to inform the public about these foundational underpinnings of Washington gridlock.

    February 12, 2013 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  4. sifto

    why on earth does the left not want voter ID?

    February 12, 2013 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  5. Rudy NYC

    We need national voting standards, at least for years with a general election.

    Could you imagine an election held at the state level where various precincts across the state would conduct different voting hours? Most people would find that unacceptable, yet that is exactly the situation when it comes to general elections and states setting their own voting laws. Some states grant more, or less, access to the polls than others. Doesn't sound fair, does it?

    February 12, 2013 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  6. Ed1

    Voted twice in 7 years a real go getter.

    February 12, 2013 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  7. much thunder.little rain

    rudy hit it ....all states should be the same...but voter id is a no brainer...

    February 12, 2013 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  8. Name lynn

    Now the people wants to talk about voting rights, when obama defeat mitt. People voted for obama an the latinos as well we are the 47% that mitt was talking about, obama didnt say all that hes for everyone but yet he defeat mitt fare an square oh yea obama is black an mitt white.

    February 12, 2013 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  9. Guest

    Obama has fueled your so called "race war" Sniffit. I'll this again, if you need to precede your American nationality with your ethnicity you should go to that place which you hold so dear.

    February 12, 2013 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    "why on earth does the left not want voter ID?"

    Oh cut it out. First, the myth of "widespread voter fraud" has been so disproven it's not even remotely arguable anymore. Second, REASONABLE voter ID laws have not even been opposed by "the left." The ones that clearly taget minority, elderlyl, youth or "urban" voters, on the other hand, are just permutations of voter suppression...like the new and improved, more restrictive voter ID laws that VA's Teatrolls in its state legislature just passed in response to VA going to Obama again in 2012, which disallow Social Security cards as a form of ID, but allow Concealed Carry permits as a form of ID. The GOP/Teatroll effort to suppress voters by race, age and geographic areas is hardly concealed.

    February 12, 2013 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    "Obama has fueled your so called "race war" Sniffit. I'll this again, if you need to precede your American nationality with your ethnicity you should go to that place which you hold so dear."

    Obama "fueld the race war" solely by being the first african american POTUS. His mere existence as such fuels tyrades and tantrums all throughout the GOP/Teatrolls, south, conservatives, etc. All you managed to do with your post is highlight that fact.

    February 12, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  12. Rudy NYC

    Ed1 wrote:

    Voted twice in 7 years a real go getter.
    ----------------------
    Let's see how many votes you will have cast in the previous 7 years when you hit 102 years of age.

    February 12, 2013 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  13. UDidntBuildThat

    Sniffit
    I don't know where u get ur facts from but no voter fraud is not a myth. It did happen in Texas and Florida resulting in convictions. But the bigger point here is that u seem think that because it does not happen so we don't need voter ID? So going along with ur logic is that only when it does happen, & happen in large amt (perhaps also when it favors republicans) then and only then, we should have voter ID.
    Thanks, we get it now.

    February 12, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. Lynda/Minnesota

    "These problems could be fixed with federal voting standards, including early voting and modernized registration, to ensure that elections are free, fair and accessible," Judith Browne Dianis, co-director of Advancement Project said."

    I agree. Nothing smacks more of third world domination than suppressing the vote. Heads up, GOPers. You folks lost for a reason. Telling people they can't vote, or making it harder and harder for ALL of US to vote (in hope of rigging elections) IS NOT THE AMERICAN way. Not in MY America anyway.

    February 12, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |