In a speech at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas, on June 4, 2016 presidential candidate and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called out four Republican opponents by name and criticized them for supporting efforts to keep young, poor and minority citizens from voting.
During her speech, Clinton stressed that voting restrictions implemented by Republican-led state legislatures contribute to a “sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people."
“We should be clearing the way for more people to vote, not putting up every roadblock anyone can imagine,” she said. Clinton called out Texas GOP candidate and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, as well as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for “fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of voter fraud."
“All of these problems voting just didn't happen by accident,” she said. “And it is just wrong — it's wrong — to try to prevent, undermine and inhibit Americans' right to vote."
To increase voter turnout, Clinton is calling for automatic voter registration. Under Clinton's plan, every U.S. citizen would be automatically registered to vote at age 18 unless they actively choose not to be.
Clinton is among a large number of Democrats who’ve attempted to challenge some of the laws they say make it difficult for lower-income and minority voters to participate, including strict photo ID regulations and “cutbacks in early voting,” reported Reuters.
Republicans have continually defended and supported the laws, saying they help solve voter fraud issues. Republican National Committee spokesman Orlando Watson criticized Clinton’s statements on voting rights, calling them “misleading and divisive.”
“In reality, the vast majority of Americans — including minority voters — support commonsense measures to prevent voter fraud,” Watson said. “Clinton's shameless attacks ignore the fact her Democrat-led home state of New York does not allow early voting while dozens of Republican-led states do."
Clinton has been a longtime supporter of voting rights, notably introducing legislation during her time in the Senate to make Election Day a national holiday.
“Today, Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting,” she said in her speech at Texas Southern. “What part of democracy are they afraid of?”
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