April 11th, 2014
10:43 AM ET
5 months ago

Obama says voter rights threatened from ID laws

Updated 4:41 p.m. ET, 4/11/2014

New York (CNN) – If President Barack Obama's remarks Thursday at Lyndon Johnson's presidential library were meant to honor the legacy of the civil rights movement, Friday's speech to a rights group in New York focused on an area where activists say work remains in achieving racial equality.

Obama addressed voting rights as part of his speech to Al Sharpton's National Action Network, continuing the White House's effort to spotlight Republican-backed measures they say place undue hardships on voting for minorities, students and immigrants.

They hope the issue will help galvanize voters to elect Democrats in this year's midterm elections, where the party's control of the Senate appears in jeopardy.

Obama said on Friday the right to vote is "threatened today" in a way that hasn't been seen since before the Voting Rights Act became law nearly 50 years ago.

He said he's not against "reasonable attempts to secure the vote." But he said he is against rules requiring IDs that millions of Americans don't have. Not having such required identification "shouldn't prevent you from exercising your right to vote," he said.

Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder have both taken on the issue in the past week, each declaring that voting rights were a top priority for the administration.

Obama's Justice Department has filed suit against Texas and North Carolina, seeking to block proposed voter ID laws in each state and claiming the regulations are discriminatory to people who don't have photo identification - a group that includes a large number of minorities.

Proponents of voter ID laws say they're designed to prevent fraud at the ballot box.

North Carolina's law also shortened the period of early voting, eliminated same-day registration, and put some restrictions on how provisional ballots are counted.

A rash of new voting laws - and the subsequent lawsuits - are a consequence of last year's Supreme Court decision that struck down a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The invalidated section required certain states to obtain permission from the federal government before altering voting laws.

In the ruling, justices said Congress must re-determine how places are put on the list using updated data - a tough proposition for a body already mired in partisan gridlock. Lawmakers last reauthorized that "pre-clearance" requirement in 2006 without making any major changes to the method of how a place is included on the list of states needing federal permission.

House and Senate lawmakers have introduced bipartisan measures that would require states with recent voting violations to have their proposed changes approved by the federal government, though voter ID laws would be permitted.

The White House hasn't said yet whether Obama would support the measure, saying only the President welcomed Congressional action on the issue.

The original voting rights act was passed in 1965 under President Lyndon B. Johnson, whose legacy Obama hailed on Thursday during remarks in Austin.

Obama, along with three other living presidents, convened at the library this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, which for the first time outlawed discrimination in public places.

During his remarks, President Bill Clinton accused those who support new voting laws of retracting important progress in achieving equality.

"We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it," Clinton said.


Filed under: Al Sharpton • New York • President Obama
soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. smith

    @Rudy- So what do you want, a limo to pick these people up? Wait, maybe a ballot box brought to their house..geez.

    April 11, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    @ Wake Up
    I almost said something about the fact that they had a picture of Eric Holder ( whom I had the pleasure of meeting here at work btw!) on a story about the Pesident, but then I thought as you, it just makes their wittle heads go BOOM! when they are reminded that these two Black men are running this country.
    TGIF indeed Wake Up!

    April 11, 2014 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  3. truth hurts but reality bites

    Gotta love Holder.... lies to Congress, obstructs investigations in Congress, refuses to uphold the laws of this country, and then complains about his treatment and plays the race card. Only in America, the land of victimhood.

    April 11, 2014 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  4. phoenix86

    Holder is a dirty cop; and Obama is just another thug.

    April 11, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  5. Silence DoGood

    Benghazi
    Birth Certificate
    voter fraud
    area 51
    IRS
    ....rinse and repeat.

    April 11, 2014 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  6. salty dog

    The countries biggest problem is the failure of many to realize there is but two kinds of people in the gop eyes, those that contribute to them, and EVERYONE else, that includes you Tommy, and tom l. and smith (least offensive). It really is that simple,,every vote, every proposed bill, virtually every thing they do is for the wealthy, and to regain power. Do you honestly agree with how they remove laws that they don't like, voting act 4, which is what was sacrificed to remove act 5., the recent campaign contributions law, rand Paul changing law to suit his political agenda, the list goes on and on.

    April 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    "I`ll pose the same question to you. What study has shown an election with millions of people that there wasn`t one case of voter fraud?"

    Thanks champ, but I'm not doing your homework for you. Go use teh Googlez. Furthermore, we don't need to prove there was ZERO voter fraud in "an election with millions of people" in order to disprove the GOP/Teatroll argument that it's such a widespread and pervasive argument that it's swinging elections and "disenfranchising" thousands (and other nonsense like "it's the darn illegals doing it") such that it justifies the vast array of restrictive, suppressive registration, voting procedure and elections rules changes the GOP/Teatrolls have suddenly felt the need to enact across the country after a black man got elected POTUS.

    BTW, if your argument is that "we know it's out there and happening all the time, it's just that it's so hard to find and prosecute," then I've got news for you: there are no elephants hiding in that strawberry patch.

    April 11, 2014 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "BTW – all the missing votes are in a secret vault in Area 51."

    Yep, right next to Hoffa's corpse, Obama's real birth certificate and the Ark of the Covenant.

    April 11, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  9. Ol' Yeller

    "In the article earlier today about Dingell where he said the air was toxic back when the Civil Rights Act of 1964, there was a comment comparing the TEA Party to the opposition to the bill. Now THAT is not only disingenuous and disgusting, it is just flat out incorrect."

    Nope. Incorrect, unfactual, innacurate, not true, lie, fib... whatever you want to call it. Of the three Senators most associated with the tea baggers (and tom I's hero, I might add) rand paul has stated on national television, unequivocally that he would not vote for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 were it brought up for a vote today. He began backtracking, denying, and then flat out lying when he saw the damage it was causing (just like he did when he got caught red-handed plagiarizing multiple times).
    So please tom I (who loves to call the progressive posters on here liars every chance he gets, even if he has to twist their words or lie himself to do it), don't get on here and try to pretend the tea baggers do not include a huge bloc of racists within their ranks (BTW-a racist is a racist by their words and actions; despite their vehement denials). Just because you turn a blind eye to it, doesn't make it go away?
    And please.... enlighten us in how far we have come in 50 years... we are still fighting off poll taxes and the SCOTUS just kneecapped one of the major tools used to fight voter suppression against minorities on another partisanally divided vote.
    Please try and do this in less than 654,732 words and 1265 rhetorical nonsensical questions....

    April 11, 2014 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  10. Silence DoGood

    @Sniffit
    "I`ll pose the same question to you. What study has shown an election with millions of people that there wasn`t one case of voter fraud?"

    Thanks champ, but I'm not doing your homework for you. Go use teh Googlez. Furthermore, we don't need to prove there was ZERO voter fraud in "an election with millions of people" in order to disprove the GOP/Teatroll argument that it's such a widespread and pervasive argument that it's swinging elections and "disenfranchising" thousands (and other nonsense like "it's the darn illegals doing it") such that it justifies the vast array of restrictive, suppressive registration, voting procedure and elections rules changes the GOP/Teatrolls have suddenly felt the need to enact across the country after a black man got elected POTUS.

    BTW, if your argument is that "we know it's out there and happening all the time, it's just that it's so hard to find and prosecute," then I've got news for you: there are no elephants hiding in that strawberry patch.
    -----------–
    Classic conspiracy theory.
    I know there is a big foot in the forest.
    No one has seen it and there is no proof.
    But there is no proof that it is not there.
    So there is a big foot in the forest.
    No one has seen it and there is no proof.
    But there is no proof that it is not there.
    So there is a big foot in the forest.
    No one has seen it and there is no proof.
    But there is no proof that it is not there.
    So there is a big foot in the forest.

    April 11, 2014 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  11. NameFrank Deery

    Meanwhile, The, ah, Reverand Sharpton is
    Under the selected media gun for his strange dealings with the NY Mafiosa Boys! Which CNN and others ignore, while Obama, Biden form a circle around him. Fear? Payback? Probably stupidity!

    November looms, Democrats! You gone!

    April 11, 2014 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  12. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    OMG DM!!! You lucky lady! I would love to meet our AG and POTUS! I love watching the uneducated illiterates that vote GOP try to demean them. Their hatred shines through and puts a huge smile on my face! I have such a crush on our AG!!!

    April 11, 2014 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  13. just saying

    leftist tactics....

    if we don't provide all of the proof of criminal government activity (delays, stonewalling,lies), then we can claim there is no proof of criminal government activity. (irs,fast&furious,benghazi)

    same deal with voter fraud. they refuse to support any measure to ensure election integrity. we already know people are voting more than once, that cat is out of the bag long ago. dead people voting? legendary in democrat districts.

    April 11, 2014 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  14. Monroe

    I signed up for obamacare in person and was asked for ID. I truly wonder was this racist to be asked for id or was it simply to prevent fraud?

    April 11, 2014 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  15. NATHAN WIMBERLY

    Can't wait to see Sheldon Adelson,Rupert Mourdoch,Rove,Grover Norquist and the GOP stuff Jeb Bush down the tea party's throats 2012 Mitt Romney style.

    April 11, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  16. TONE

    @phoenix86

    Holder is a dirty cop; and Obama is just another thug.

    If you could have used different words to describe them we would have seen it on here? two BLACK MEN running this country
    is not sitting well with you? poor baby just deal with it because you cannot change it.

    April 11, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    smith

    @Rudy- So what do you want, a limo to pick these people up? Wait, maybe a ballot box brought to their house..geez.
    ---------------------------------
    Yeah, that would be great. Why would Republicans close up the inner city polling place, and then open one outside of the city's limits and off of the main bus lines, forcing people to transfer? This is the reality in Cincinnatti, BTW.

    April 11, 2014 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  18. Jules

    Sign me to do what I did after the civil rights legislation was signed and that was go out and register people to vote. The GOP wants to play the voter suppression game then it is time for those of us on the other side to not only help people get ID's they can vote with, if that is required, but to sign up thousands of others as first time voters. If your state wants to pass voter suppression legislation, then hopefully you will see me and thousands of others as we not only come into your states to help voters comply with your ill conceived legislation aimed to make it more difficult to vote, but to sign up enough voters so the people who pass this kind of legislation will no longer hold a majority in their states to do it.

    April 11, 2014 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  19. Tom l

    DMFO,

    Happy Friday! Let's get it on! :)

    What makes people's heads explode is not that it's two black men that are running the country but these two individuals and their policies. Let's be clear, there certainly are some whose heads explode due to the color of their skin, but not the majority of Americans. Can't we all just get along?? Do you think there has been progress in our country since 1964 or do you think its worse?

    April 11, 2014 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. Fair is Fair

    just saying

    leftist tactics....

    if we don't provide all of the proof of criminal government activity (delays, stonewalling,lies), then we can claim there is no proof of criminal government activity. (irs,fast&furious,benghazi)
    -------
    It's called "plausible deniability" and it's their favorite tactic.

    April 11, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  21. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    I like the way you think Jules!! Btw, that's exactly what I call my coworker Julie..

    April 11, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  22. Bill from GA

    Sniffit – Comparing a POTUS election year to a mid-term election year is not apples to apples.

    You miss the point. How can people complain about the process if they don't get involved in the process? Governors and Congress are elected in mid-term elections. If you don't vote then, you can't complain about the results you get.

    We will vote again for governor in Georgia this fall. So many complain about our current governor, or our Congress, but choose not to do anything about it. If that doesn't bother you, fine. It bothers me. We hear so much about what those nasty republicans are doing to us, but those who don't vote are the cause of the problem.

    There would be no Gerrymandering of the districts if voters came our in mid-terms. There would be much less voter suppression f voters came our in mid-terms. I'm not trying to make a comparison, I'm pointing our a solution.

    April 11, 2014 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  23. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    Jules

    Sign me to do what I did after the civil rights legislation was signed and that was go out and register people to vote. The GOP wants to play the voter suppression game then it is time for those of us on the other side to not only help people get ID's they can vote with, if that is required, but to sign up thousands of others as first time voters. If your state wants to pass voter suppression legislation, then hopefully you will see me and thousands of others as we not only come into your states to help voters comply with your ill conceived legislation aimed to make it more difficult to vote, but to sign up enough voters so the people who pass this kind of legislation will no longer hold a majority in their states to do it.
    -------------------------------------------------
    Exactly Jules and thank you!
    It sure as hell beats uselessly shaking our fists here on the internet, which btw is exactly what they want us to do.
    If you're here hating and moaning you are NOT out there doing something that is actually productive.
    We all need to emulate Jules.

    April 11, 2014 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  24. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    The fact that it took from 1865 to 1965 for blacks to get any rights tells me we better stay on top of things and continue to fight. It shows me that many didn't want us to have them then and they damn sure don't want us having them now. Look what giving blacks Civil Rights gave the world..... A black POTUS and AG!!!!

    Woosah!!!!!!

    April 11, 2014 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  25. just saying

    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....
    The fact that it took from 1865 to 1965 for blacks to get any rights tells me we better stay on top of things and continue to fight
    --

    and if it wasn't for republicans, blacks would still be slaves and there would be no civil right act. you're welcome.

    April 11, 2014 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
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