Clinton calls for voting rights restructuring
A few blocks from campus, Texas Southern University’s H&PE Arena erupted into applause Thursday afternoon as presidential candidate Hillary Clinton accepted the first-ever Barbara Jordan Gold Medallion for Public-Private Leadership award.
The award, named after civil rights activist Barbara Jordan who helped pass an extension to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, gave Clinton a segue to propose her plan of getting more voters registered.
“Today, I am calling for universal, automatic voter registration,” Clinton said. “Every citizen in every state, every young man or young woman should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18.”
Clinton’s speech, centered around voting rights, comes at the heels of a lawsuit that was filed last month by Democrats allied with Clinton pertaining to voter restrictions.
“We have a responsibility to say clearly and directly what’s really going on in our country,” Clinton said. “What is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other.
Forty years ago Barbara Jordan fought to extend the Voting Rights Act; (her) part has been ripped out. I wish we could hear her speak up for the student who has to wait hours for his or her right to vote. Unfortunately Barbara isn’t here to speak up … but we are.”
In her speech, Clinton urged Congress to take action in securing voting rights by expanding early voting by at least 20 days and opening polling places on weekends and evenings for those who cannot vote during the day time.
Clinton spoke briefly about voter I.D. restrictions, citing the story of a college student barred from voting because she used a student I.D.
“I would say that it is a cruel irony, but no coincidence that millennials — the most diverse, tolerant and inclusive generation in American history — are now facing so much exclusion,” Clinton said. “We should be doing everything we can to get young people more engaged in democracy, not less.”