How Hillary Clinton Wants to Change Voting Rights Laws

PHOTO: Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to South Carolina House Democratic Womens Caucus and Womens Council, May 27, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.Richard Shiro/AP Photo
Democratic presidential candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to South Carolina House Democratic Women's Caucus and Women's Council, May 27, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton is bringing voting rights to the forefront of her campaign Thursday.

At a campaign event, Clinton is expected to lay out specific policy proposals to address laws that she believes suppress voting -– including calling for a nationwide minimum of 20 days of early in-person voting, according to an aide.

Clinton is expected to announce her proposals to tackle “assaults to voting rights” during remarks at the Texas Southern University, a historically all-black college, in Houston, Texas, where she is receiving the Barbara Jordan Public-Private Leadership Award.

The Backstory

The issue of voting rights has become a point of focus for the Democratic Party since 2013 when the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that invalidated pre-clearance requirements.

Without the provision, which required jurisdictions in states with a history of discrimination to clear voting law changes with the federal government, states have had an easier time passing measurements that many Democrats argue make it harder for Americans –- often minorities and the elderly –- to vote.

These measures include requiring a government-issued photo ID to vote, a proof of citizenship to register and cutting back on early voting.

While Republicans say these laws help prevent voter fraud, Democrats argue it prevents a key part of their party’s constituents from getting to the polls.

What Clinton Wants To Do

During Clinton’s remarks on Thursday, an aide says she will denounce the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling and condemn more recent efforts to tighten voting requirements, specifically in North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, and Florida.

She will also lay out a multi-pronged approach to addressing the her concerns that will include calling on Congress to take “swift action to restore the Voting Rights Act” and to back President Obama’s bipartisan commission on election reform. Clinton will also call to expand early voting across all 50 states. Her policy proposal would also require at least 20 days of open early polling, and opportunities for weekend and evening voting.

According to her campaign, Clinton will argue that these changes would reduce long lines at polling stations on election day and expand access to voting.

Democrats Coalescing

Clinton’s decision to jump on the issue of voting rights this early in her campaign appears to be tied to an effort by the Democratic Party as a whole to challenge voter restrictions.

As reported by The New York Times, a nationwide legal battle has been mounted by Marc Elias, a top Democratic lawyer who represents four of the party’s national campaign committees –- as well as Hillary Clinton’s campaign.