April 11th, 2014
10:43 AM ET
8 years 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.

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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. Silence DoGood

    @Tony D
    Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....
    I'll tell you Smith, when I voted in 2012 it was the first time I ever had to show ID and I was angry.
    -–

    I am even more angry when my vote and thousands more are nullified by people illegally voting when they are not citizens and people voting more than once in multiple states and localities.

    Why do Democrats openly support the ability to perpetrate election fraud? Something is wrong with a party that doesn't want to protect the integrity of our elections.
    -------------
    Voter fraud exists but the "wide-spread" conspiracy theory has been debunked a number of times, even by Snopes, the urban myth folks.
    So why do the conservative manipulators like it? It HAS been shown to limit college, young, and poor voting, all of which are generally liberal voters.

    April 11, 2014 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  2. salty dog

    Wow, thanks just saying: you should be an investigator, you sure your safe leaking that info, obama going to send nsa and IRS to get you. Lmao. Fair, is there some part you think we missed?

    April 11, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Marcus (from...?)

    Tony D – 'Something is wrong with a party that doesn't want to protect the integrity of our elections.'
    Then why do you vote (R)?

    April 11, 2014 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  4. jim in texas

    Here in Texas, people speak from two camps on this issue. The conservative population talks about the horrors of illegal Mexicans all over the place, but businesses that thrive on their labor are strangely quiet. If all illegal Mexicans were removed from the workforce today, half the businesses in Texas would collapse.

    April 11, 2014 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  5. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    (meaning Obama the misogynist FIRED her)...
    -------------------------------------------------
    What a meaningless and factless accusation, even for you Fair.

    April 11, 2014 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  6. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    Well Tony where exactly is this voter fraud occurring? Because everyone knows if the GOP had one legitimate case of someone committing voter fraud in President Obama's favor, it would have been all over every news channel. The GOP would have screamed from the rooftops and DEMANDED a recount.

    April 11, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  7. Tommy G

    Obama and Holder, two of the most incompetent people to EVER hold office in this country. Holder has openly violated more laws than he has ever enforced. Now he and Obama are moving on to race baiting before the election. Democrat desperation is palpable. They know the Obamacare tsunami is coming for them again, just like it did in 2010.

    April 11, 2014 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  8. rs

    Fair is Fair

    I find it pretty amazing that the HHS Secretary "resigns" (meaning Obama the misogynist FIRED her)... and there's a piddling little article from overinght on this major story. Nothing to see here... move along... it's all over folks... please keep moving along...
    ________________________
    So, you and the Right scream (for months) "heads should roll" over the less than clean ACA web page roll-out, and now that the Sect. of the HHS resign, you call the Sitting President of the United States a misogynist? Really?
    Oy!

    April 11, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  9. Silence DoGood

    Typical example of how conservatives turn actual facts into conspiracy theory by omitting important contextual information and out-and-out lying. Source Snopes 2012 presidential election:
    -------
    the lie: "Obama won in every state that did not require a Photo ID and lost in every state that did require a Photo ID in order to vote."
    In the 2012 presidential election, Barack Obama did lose in every state that required all voters to provide photo ID, but those states were only four in number: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, and Tennessee. Meanwhile, contrary to what is claimed here, he also lost in many states that did not require all voters to provide photo ID: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

    April 11, 2014 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  10. Dean

    Of course Obama is against tightening the voting/registration process. Without illeagal aliens, those who vote more than once, underage students, criminals and crooked workers at urban (inner-city) polling places Democrats would rarely win elections.

    April 11, 2014 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  11. smith

    @Rudy- What a bunch of excuses.I don`t see anybody on the repub side complaining, they have elderly voters and folks with tight schedules. If you want to vote you have to put at least a tad bit of effort.

    April 11, 2014 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  12. salty dog

    Tony, the only real attempt, or actual voter fraud was committed by the Republicans, Nathan sproles, two elections in a row, illegally removing hundreds of thousands off of voter rolls. Get informed, if you want credibility. SMH.

    April 11, 2014 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  13. Fair is Fair

    rs

    Fair is Fair

    I find it pretty amazing that the HHS Secretary "resigns" (meaning Obama the misogynist FIRED her)... and there's a piddling little article from overinght on this major story. Nothing to see here... move along... it's all over folks... please keep moving along...
    ________________________
    So, you and the Right scream (for months) "heads should roll" over the less than clean ACA web page roll-out, and now that the Sect. of the HHS resign, you call the Sitting President of the United States a misogynist? Really?
    Oy!
    ------
    Nah... but had it been a Republican that fired a woman, that's the FIRST word that would come out of a leftie's mouth. A tongue-in-cheek comment that looks like it had the desired effect on you and the cheerleader.

    April 11, 2014 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  14. Lizzie

    And who was against the amendment, DEMOCRATS, but now the have found a different way to keep majorities down, by claiming WE ARE the ones helping you.

    April 11, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  15. a little sad

    Tommy G

    Obama and Holder, two of the most incompetent people to EVER hold office in this country. Holder has openly violated more laws than he has ever enforced. Now he and Obama are moving on to race baiting before the election. Democrat desperation is palpable. They know the Obamacare tsunami is coming for them again, just like it did in 2010.

    Did you miss 2012?

    The GOP was proclaiming 2012 as a referendum on Obamacare. Dems won the Whitehouse, gained seats in the House and Senate, maintained the majority in the Senate, and although they did not win control of the House, more votes were cast nationwide for Democratic congressmen than for Republican.

    Nostalgia for 2010, before people caught on to what a cancer the Teaparty is, is not going win you votes.

    April 11, 2014 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  16. John

    Who can possibly function and walk around without an ID these days?! Even if you don't have one, there are many easy ways to get one. Claiming this is suppressing the vote of ANYBODY is pure made up rubbish by the Democrats. More of their same old tactics of victimhood. Without it, the Democrat Party would be no more than the average band of hoodlums and thieves.

    April 11, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  17. salty dog

    Tommy G, first, wake up, you guys really don't see it coming do you. And Obama is just incompetent enough to clean up your party's financial mess, and turn around the biggest recession in 75 years, with complete obstruction from the Republicans. Your oh so clueless, perfect gop rube. Explain how more money to the top, will fix the record inequality, ignorance personified!

    April 11, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "I am even more angry when my vote and thousands more are nullified by people illegally voting when they are not citizens and people voting more than once in multiple states and localities."

    Then you're angry over nothing, a myth, a disproven, completely debunked fairy tale. The only fraud in "voter fraud" is the people claiming it's a widespread, pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. Lizzie

    Wake Up People...... How about the 700 fraudulent votes that got Al Franken elected. See how few fraudulent votes can change an outcome.

    April 11, 2014 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  20. Ron L

    I have one question for all the people who claim we NEED photo ID to prevent fraud, and the changes in the laws has nothing to do with suppressing the vote. Why do the Republicans also, REDUCE THE NUMBER OF EARLY VOTING DAYS, REDUCE THE NUMBER OF POLLING PLACES IN THE DEMOCRATIC LEANING DISTRICTS? You would have to be blind not to see it isn't "just" about reducing fraud. it is also about reducing voter turn out. Here's what I would love to see happen. Instead of voting on Tuesdays, vote on Saturdays. That way 80% of us would not have to squeeze voting time in before or after working hours. That alone could increase participation.

    April 11, 2014 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. WOW

    Its sad when buying booze is more important than voting!

    April 11, 2014 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  22. Marcus (from...?)

    Lizzie – Coleman filled all the appeals he had the right to fill, he had his day(s) in court(s) as he had the right to, and he loss his case. He conceded, you should do the same.

    April 11, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  23. Wake Up People! Many Rivers to cross.....

    TGIF!!
    I get so excited when I see the klan referring to the POTUS and AG as incompetent, stupid, corrupt, etc. It gets me all warm and fuzzy inside knowing these two men are in the top positions in this country and so many hate it. I love it! It makes me practically 0rgasmic!

    Mr. President and Mr. AG, I adore you guys! Keep on keeping on gentlemen!!!

    April 11, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  24. smith

    @Sniffit- Saying there is no voter fraud is like saying people buying alcohol and tobacco when they are underage doesn`t happend. Who debunked voter fraud? Mother Jones?

    April 11, 2014 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  25. Silence DoGood

    @Lizzie
    Wake Up People...... How about the 700 fraudulent votes that got Al Franken elected. See how few fraudulent votes can change an outcome.
    -------------–
    August 8, 2012 Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said Wednesday. “After the most closely scrutinized election in Minnesota history in 2008, there were zero cases of fraud. Even the Republicans lawyers acknowledged that there was no systematic effort to defraud the election, none.”

    These Conspiracy Theories are easy to debunk – yet they keep coming.
    Lizzie – go back to Birth Certificate or something.

    April 11, 2014 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
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