Bill Clinton Criticizes SCOTUS Voting Rights Act Decision And Calls It Vote Suppression

Bill Clinton on VRA

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

Speaking at a 50th anniversary celebration of the Civil Rights Act in Texas, former President Bill Clinton told the audience everything you need to know about the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder in two sentences.  “We all know what this is about. This is a way of restricting the franchise after 50 years of expanding it.”

Protecting your vote entails knowing a bit more about the tricks and traps Republican legislators have set up since that ruling.

For one thing, registering to vote is much harder now.  If you move to a different district or a different state be prepared to spend several days navigating the bureaucratic nightmare that has become registering to vote.

Recently, I was told about the experiences of one person who recently moved to a different state and whose marital status had also changed.  When they went to register, they had their driver’s license issued from their previous state.  The license was still good.  They had their passport, which had admittedly expired a few days earlier.  They had utility bills. They also had their marriage certificate and birth certificate.  In all, this person had a paper trail establishing that they are a U.S. citizen and therefore they are eligible to register and vote.  Initially, they were told they need a valid passport to register.    After some discussion, my informant was allowed to register.  They told me that probably happened because they are white and wearing nice clothes because that would suggest they vote Republican.  They were convinced that had they been black or perhaps wearing less expensive clothing, the law would have been strictly enforced and they would have been disenfranchised.

The lesson of this person’s story is understanding that the days in which registering to vote and voting were easy, even when you are eligible to vote and have ID, are over.  These days registering to vote takes a lot of time, a lot of documentation and a lot of persistence.

The Republicans who passed these laws designed them hoping to discourage certain types of voters.  They’re hoping that laws reducing early votes and banning weekend voting will keep turnout low from certain kinds of voters.

This year’s election is as much about fighting for your vote as it is about choosing who best represents your views on the issues and who is most likely to protect your interests.

Republicans are counting on Democrats being apathetic, being disheartened by Republican obstructionism or intimidated by all that money the Koch brothers are pouring into the Tea Party and its clown car of crazy candidates.

This also means you need to get informed about the documents you need to register to vote and to vote. It means taking the time to contact your local election officials to confirm what documents you need to register and to vote.  It means checking to make sure you are registered.  It means finding out if your state still allows early voting and if so when.  It means making sure you go to the right poll place.  In several states, if you vote at the wrong poll place your vote doesn’t get counted.

It means, if you are a woman, your ID must match your name exactly.  If you are married, you government recognized ID must match your married name exactly as it appears on your marriage certificate.

The degree to which Republicans are out to suppress the vote wasn’t lost on former President Clinton.  That’s why he spoke so eloquently about it.

Is this what Martin Luther King gave his life for? Is this what Lyndon Johnson gave his legendary skills for? Is this is what America has become — a great diverse American Democracy… to restrict the franchise?” “Here we are seriously considering undermining the spirit of both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Act because of what’s happening with the franchise — this is nuts, it doesn’t make any sense.

It is nuts but then we are talking about Republican policies.  Your voice matters.  You have every right to use it and fight to keep using it.

Be ready for the obstacles that come your way by being informed and prepared.  Be ready to wait in long lines.  Be ready for a “poll observer” from the Koch Brother financed Tea Party, the Koch financed True the Vote or other similar organizations.  In some states, you will need to be ready for that poll observer standing within 3 feet of you while you give your information to voting officials.

It sounds like a lot to do to be able to vote. Republicans are counting on you thinking just that and nothing would make them happier than if you stay home instead of making your voice heard.

I’ll be the first to admit that we shouldn’t have to fight this battle again. But we can win it by voting and we’ll definitely lose it if we don’t fight back.

Image: ABC

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21 Replies to “Bill Clinton Criticizes SCOTUS Voting Rights Act Decision And Calls It Vote Suppression”

  1. Great article Ms. Woodbury. What you have said is oh so true. We also need to help others, neighbors, friends, get registered and get to the polls. One other thing is to check if your state allows absentee or mail in voting. If so get a mail in ballot. This may one of the most crucial elections in our history.

    One of the unsung hero’s now is the ACLU and the SPLC who are doing all they can to fight voter suppression and to get people registered, get them documentation, and get them to the polls.

    I think as election time draws closer you will see President Clinton be even more vocal about this. It seems as the years go by he is becoming more brazen in his speeches. He is still able to coalesce and command attention with voters.

  2. I just read on ThinkProgress that in Florida, Miami-Dade county stated that there will be no restroom facilities at any polling places. Their lines go as long as six hours. It doesn’t matter if you’re disabled or whatever they have decided there will be no restrooms. I find that incredible.

  3. “No restroom facilities at any polling places in Florida” Then we tell Voters to all wear Diapers!

    Here in Northern CA, Voting takes 10-minutes flat…in and out.
    How can these Red States get away with what they’re doing?

  4. In 2006, Congress reauthorized Section 5 for an additional 25 years, but it did not change the coverage formula from the 1975 version. So Congress did not adjust formula from 40 year old outdated version and that’s the Supreme Courts fault. No that’s the fault of congress and every president since passage of said act that did nothing to reauthorize or amend. Which would include Clinton. Reagan presidency passed it in 82. Reagan was last to do so by the way. Even Carter passed to amend/reauthorize last Democrat to do so. Of which without amend/reauthorize under Reagan act would not of lasted till now. Clinton and Obama served a combined 16 years an no passage of anything to reauthorize or amend. None of that matters though cause its the courts fault Bill, Bush, Obama and Congress dropped the ball? Even though Carter and Reagan did not. Sorry but Congress and President are to blame for not passing and signing anything. The preclearance requirement initially was set to expire 5 years af…

  5. I see you are using conservative math President Obama has only been in office for 5 years going on 6 so him and President Clinton has not been in office for 16 years

  6. I’m from Northern California and you are correct, voting usually takes a half an hour at best.
    But, I am no longer a California State employee and have retired to Oregon. And I thought I would miss going to the polls on election day, but I don’t, here’s why;

    WE VOTE BY MAIL. And if you don’t want to put a stamp on it, there are ballot drop offs in front of Sheriff Stations, Police Stations, and county clerks offices.

    Even in the off years, our voter turnout is almost 70%, AND we have the highest voter turn out of the 35 (and under) year olds in the nation.
    There has NEVER been a hint of voter suppression, or voter fraud.
    I wish every state would just vote by mail.

  7. Lol…Sorry if definition of combined eludes you. Clinton served two terms or eight years. Obama elected to two terms and eight years. 8+8=16 miss grade school? You saying Obama will resign? Lol not a chance! Any other uneducated retorts of nothing?

  8. Have President Obama served a full two terms yet? And its the Congress job to fix the act but as usual you have no understanding of separation of powers

  9. So he will resign? Congress cannot pass any law without president signature. Did you miss advice and consent step? So laws pass without president signing them. President may advise and consent that is his job. It seems you do not know how your the government works. No bill passes unless president signs…. unless one has a veto proof majority. Of which no party does. So why did Clinton or Obama advise congress to this issue? You? Nothing but regurgitated one liners of which you seems to not even grasp. Next!

  10. So he will resign? Congress cannot pass any law without president signature. Did you miss when president make recommendations for legislation? Signature? So laws pass without president signing them. President may make recommendation for legislation at any time. It seems you do not know how your the government works. No bill passes unless president signs…. unless one has a veto proof majority. Of which no party does. Then you have pocket veto. So why did Clinton or Obama not make such recommendations for legislation? You? Nothing but regurgitated one liners of which you seems to not even grasp. Next! Sorry but hack site will not allow me to edit original post. I should have used recommendations and signature instead of advise and consent which only applies to certain roles like ambassador or foreign policy issues.

  11. Already have and Supreme court majority stated nothing to refute my post. As you have not. In fact majority stated inaction was part of reason for decision. You might try reading it again.

  12. It seems that Bill Clinton is doing a better, more presidential job now than he did when he was President.

    Maybe he’ll make a better adviser to Hilary than she did for him. That is, if Hillary ever listens to anyone but herself.

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