Washington (CNN) - The Democratic Party is showcasing former President Bill Clinton to help launch a new program to expand voters' access to polls.
An announcement Thursday by the Democratic National Committee comes as the party committee kicks off its Winter Meeting here in the nation's capital. During three days of meetings, the DNC has its eyes on this year's midterm elections, as the party aims to hold onto its majority in the Senate, attempts the extremely challenging effort to recapture control of the House of Representatives, and tries to make gains in governors' offices.
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But the party committee also has its sights set on the 2016 presidential campaign, which is just on the horizon, and will begin discussions on such crucial issues as the primary calendar and when the Democrats should hold their nominating convention.
Voter rights push
"Today, there is no greater assault on our core values than the rampant efforts to restrict the right to vote," says Clinton in a nearly five-minute video that the DNC put up on YouTube Thursday morning.
The DNC says it will set up a permanent in-house team, as well put staff in key battleground states, in an effort to increase early voting, online voter reigstration, and fight against voter identification laws which the party decribes as a move by Republicans to lower voter participation.
The battle over voting requirements between the two parties has become more fierce over the past couple of years, as a number of states passed stricter voter ID laws. Some of those measures have been overturned in the courts.
Republicans who back tougher voter ID laws say they are needed to reduce voter fraud. Democrats argue that the laws are aimed at preventing the type of voters who tend to support Democrats from casting ballots.
The former president said such moves are "designed to make it harder for working people, especially people of color, the elderly, those with disabilities, and young college students, to get to the polls. To form that more perfect union we have to expand rights, not take them away."
"It's not enough anymore just to be against these new voting restrictions. We need to get back on the road forward and work for more and easier voting," Clinton added.
Brazile: Why your vote should count
Eye on midterms
The DNC's pushback against the new voter ID laws and the move to expand voter rights comes as the party faces challenges at the ballot box this November. Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the Senate (53 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the party), but are defending 21 of the 36 seats up in November's midterm elections. And half of the seats Democrats are defending are located in red or purple states.
In the House, Democrats need to pick up 17 GOP-held seats needed to win back control of the Republican-led chamber, a feat political handicappers say is unlikely considering the shrinking number of competitive congressional districts. In the states, Democrats hope to go on offense in the gubernatorial contests, as the GOP's defending 22 of the 36 seats up for grabs this November.
Donna Brazile, the DNC's vice chair of voter registration and participation, said that the Winter Meeting provides "an opportunity to focus on this election cycle."
"We're going to look at opportunities for Democrats to regain some of the ground lost in 2010. This is a chance for us to showcase our talent, fine tune our message and prepare our troops for an intense battle this fall," added Brazile, a CNN contributor.
Tapping into Obama's electoral success
As part of that push, the DNC is also working to leverage the voter data and election tools refined during Barack Obama's historically tech-savvy presidential campaigns in this year's contests.
Earlier this week the party committee said it will make accessible to Democratic campaigns nationwide this year a voter file with constantly updated data from past elections in an effort to coordinate voter information as well as help those campaigns better strategize and manage volunteers. At a meeting with reporters Tuesday at their Capitol Hill headquarters, a DNC official added that they are bringing on an additional dozen digital staffers to bolster the party committee's efforts.
The DNC's counterpart, the Republican National Committee, has also invested heavily in technology, trying to close digital divide between the two parties - a key deficiency that hurt the GOP in 2012 - as well as emphasizing a restructuring of their ground game on the community level.
An email by the RNC to reporters Thursday morning argued that the DNC is not "investing in a long-term national ground game."
Eye on 2016
The DNC meeting comes a few weeks after the RNC gave near-unanimous approval to a package of rules changes that would condense the 2016 presidential nominating calendar and help the Republican party avoid the kind of protracted party infighting that hurt GOP nominee Mitt Romney's general election appeal in 2012.
The changes by the RNC come as the party drives towards moving their nominating convention from late summer to a June window, which would make the next Republican National Convention the earliest convention in either party since 1948. The RNC has announced its support for the June move but will formally vote on the change later.
The DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee on Thursday will begin discussions of the moves the RNC made, but party leaders say no decisions will be made at the Winter Meeting. The committee will meet again in April and early June, and plans to vote on its primary calendar suggestions by early autumn, before the DNC's next major gathering.
"We will want to take a close look at some of the things they've (the RNC) done in terms of enforcement, which are more strict than what we've done," said longtime Rules and Bylaws Committee Co-chairman James Roosevelt, who says he's a strong proponent of starting the primary calendar in February.
"We think we've come up with a process that's worked pretty well for the goal of getting a full airing of the potential candidates, both those who start as favorites and have significant funding, and those who gain momentum during the process and get better funding as they go along. We've found the past several cycles that our primary calendar's worked pretty well for us," Roosevelt added.
The RNC also moved towards stiffening the penalties against states that break the rules and move up their primary or caucus dates, which happened during 2008 and 2012 presidential cycles. Democrats appear to favor that move.
"It's imperative that the parties enforce the rules, that states comply with the requirements, that they stay within the windows of the calendar.After the decisions are made, we cannot change the rules to accommodate certain states," Brazile told CNN.
As for moving the date of the Democratic convention up to June, as the Republicans are seriously considering, Brazile and Roosevelt seemed skeptical.
"We need to keep people motivated and excited. I'm still of mixed opinion of moving it up too soon. Move it up before the Olympics and people may forget about it too soon."
"I'm open to arguments for moving up the date of the convention, butI haven't heard anybody on the Democratic side make such arguments," Roosevelt added.
CNN's Peter Hamby and Dana Davidsen contributed to this report
Voter reform is needed. In NC these republican idiots are doing district separate. Well, federal voter reform is needed here. Also uproot this Pat McRory, a nasty guy. Straight vote for democratic ticket.
The GOP has been intent on vote rigging for YEARS . Does the name Nathan sproul RING a BELL in Florida where he was hired by the RNC and caught trying to rig the vote in 2012. Why would anybody vote for these GOP clowns???????
If you want to keep the right to vote, vote democratic. If women want to keep their reproductive rights, vote democratic. If those with preexisting conditions want health care, vote democratic. If you think the minimum wage is too low, vote democratic. If you think we need immigration reform, vote democratic. If you think we need to address our crumbling infrastructure, vote democratic. If you think peace is better than wars, vote democratic.
Ok Democrats – you need an ID to drive, to buy alcohol, to get Emergency Medical care, to see your Dr., to attend an NAACP rally, to get a job, to get money out of your bank, etc etc
THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH SHOWING ID IN ORDER TO VOTE!!!! It should be a requirement – it's not a restriction, it's prevention of fraud!!! Would you want your bank saying they don't need anyone to show ID – they can just make a withdrawal?? No? Then why would you want someone voting 20 times and cancelling out your vote??
The outrageous actions taken by Republicans in Ohio is a sign of what lies ahead. The GOP can't win elections on ideas (Arizona's SB 1062 is proof of that), but they can win if they massively restrict who can vote. Ending early voting, trash-canning 25% of the voting machines, limiting polling places, purging voter rolls, and more cause lower voter turn-out, which advance GOP candidates.
The morally bankrupt party wishes to undermine democracy in America- as a nation, can we afford to let them get away with it?
But the GOP can't win elections without lying, cheating and using dirty tactics!
Can't wait till Bill gets back in the White House!
Good God, I see Slick Willy is still trying to solidify his legacy. The Liberal's are still selling Snake Oil right and left. There are no voter restrictions. Anybody can go to a voter registration office and register. The Liberals think you are too ignorant to take care of yourself so they will do it for you. For all of you that believe that, the line forms on the left.
Hard to believe we're re-fighting these same wars in 2014. In Grade School Civics, we were taught many of the Good Things about our Country & it's Democratic form of Govt. Most important, the RIGHT of ALL to participate by voting. Repubs. , by the actions of their Leaders, continually disgrace these Basic American Qualities.
forcing folks to get their birth certificate, to get a ID is ludicrous. what happened to the IDs they've been using for the past 50 years. i've been trying to get my birth certificate for the past year and still haven't received it as yet, i am not going to even mentioned the time and money ive spent to get this document. a whole bunch of lower class old people dont even have a birth certificated because it has been lost years ago, or the system keeping them are out dated and jacked up. these repubs and their sinister chatter about trying to limit voter fraud while snatching away Americans right to vote in front of them is laughable. i sometimes wonder if this country is becoming a bunch of corporate robots. they are just handing over democracy to to the repubs so they can set up their corporation is people too rule. no wonder why fox news refuse to have a difference of view by hiring a dem host at their station for just half an hour. hell msnbc hires republican joe scarbarow for 3 hours every weekday morning, and still has a bunch of moderate host that tells both sides of the story down the middle. what is fox so afraid of.
I'm renting a big van and trolling the local home depot, and loading in a couple dozen illegals, and hit all the local voting booths, we got your back Hillary.
How many times does Tom Perkins have to go through the voting line to cast his millions of votes?
There is nothing wrong to ask for identification when voting. One has to show an ID to cash a check even in your own bank. ID is given to police officers when stopped. As Americans the real power we have against an egotistical, self motivated government is the power of the voting booth. Make sure you use it wisely , take note of what is happening to Americans by policies that affect us and not always for the better. We can change the coarse of this nation by voting and taking away the misuse of power we the people and the Constitution have given elected officials .
Has any part of the RNC or states held by GOP members demonstrated where the fraud is and who has committed it? I can't think of many day laborers who are not here legally taking time out of their day to vote in an election. I think the greater area of concern that relates to elections is where the money is coming from. Why do the Koch lovers... or was it brothers, get more of a say than the fellow citizen that is working two jobs just to get enough to put food on the table and roof over the family's heads.
The MEDIA, ALL MEDIA don't want to publish the truth, when it is written.
Good! Interesting, isn't it how voter restrictions are popping up all over Red states! Ohio is one of the worst. The GOP controlled state legislature is making it very difficult for working folks, college students, the elderly to vote. Why?! Because the GOP CAN NOT WIN IF Ohio turns out the vote! The more people voting the more votes for the Democrats!
The GOP's excuse is "it will keep people from cheating" even though there is not a shred of proof that any cheating goes on! Nope.... the bottom line is: When Americans vote in large numbers the Democrats win! The GOP can't win, so it is creating laws to prevent Americans from casting their votes! NOW..... if this is not anti-American what is?!
The cat's out of the bag. Republicans are not fooling anyone with these voter ID laws. They're passing laws for a problem that doesn't exist only to disenfranchise minorities and people who are not part of their voting block. Plain & simple. The only people tampering with the vote are republicans by rolling back our liberties.
America runs around the world saying we are promoting democracy. We found joy watching the Iraqis vote for the first time ever, purple finger and all. We were so proud to see democracy blooming in Iraq. However, in our country we are suppressing the vote and misstating it is to protect the integrity of the vote. Everyone knows the ONLY reason this is happening is because the GOP knows they will never win another national election if voting requirements stay the way they are. Some of the really unintelligent in the GOP have admitted the strategy publically but evidently some Americans chose not to believe this admission. Listen to the GOP and ask yourselves why the GOP does what is does and I think you will find it has nothing to do with patriotism at all. It has everything to do with greed and power. Something most of the GOP constituents can NOT offer them. Think people please.
It's about time. Someone has finally figured out that a natinoal counter offensive is needed against the war on voters.
Republicans know that if they cannot suppress the vote, they are toast. The only way Ohio will go for GOBaggers is if they eliminate a lot of voting machines, cut down on early voting, eliminate voting after work, eliminate student IDs and since the elderly don't drive or have an NRA membership card as accepted IDs, and, of course, stop the "Souls to the Polls."
See this is what I have been talking about... We Dems can send out our past Presidents to spearhead the fight against things like voter restrictions. Clinton's popularity and experience can rally folks to join in the fight against such egregious policies as not allowing Americans their right to vote.
And after 2016 we will have another popular past President to join in the fight... and one seasoning in the White House.
The republicants HATE this because their past administrations cannot do this... them showing up at any event just rallies our base.
One of the many, many reasons it is good to be Blue.
"Hard to believe we're re-fighting these same wars in 2014."
I understand that sentiment, but on an objective, intellectual level I disagree wholeheartedly with the idea that this is hard to believe or surprising. It's not like it was a big secret that demographic shifts and the rapid growth of the minority population outpacing the growth in white population is slowly shifting electoral power out of white hands. It's not like it was a big secret that 60+ years of the GOP thoroughly alienating the minority community with their rhetoric and policies and agenda, combined with said demographic shifts, was creating a self-manufactured existential crisis in waiting for the GOP. As a result, anyone who thought that the inevitable election of a black man as POTUS by an overwhelming majority of the minority population wasn't going to throw the GOP into a raging, retrogressive, regressive, racist hissy fit was fooling themselves. Racism is a deep societal infection. Obama's election didn't prove we'd triumphed over it. It brought it to a head. It lanced the cyst. And now we've got it spilling over everywhere and a big mess to clean up.
Republicans cannot address problems facing Americans, because they spend all their time dealing with problems that don't exist.
"Why do the Koch lovers... or was it brothers, get more of a say than the fellow citizen that is working two jobs just to get enough to put food on the table and roof over the family's heads."
Where do you think that advertising revenue they spend ends up? That's right: in the MSM's pockets. You want to know why politics and the national discourse and the level of information possessed by voters and the entire 4th estate are all horribly broken? Well, there you have it: ad revenue in politics. CNN gives us a steady stream of "this is how much money the jackholes raised" and "they're spending this much money on new advertisements" articles because they just can't help but share how excited and drooling over how much of it will end up in CNN's bottom line.
GERRYMANDERING is the Scourge of American Democracy. And it's FIXABLE. If ONE Political Party was really " Country First. Party Second".