On Thursday in Texas, Hillary Clinton called for federal legislation that would automatically register Americans to vote when they turn 18 and mandate at least 20 days of early voting across the country.
Speaking at Texas Southern University, a historically black college, Clinton blasted states like North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina, and Florida and accused Republicans in those states and others of enacting a “sweeping effort to disenfranchise and disempower people of color, poor people, and young people.”
She called on Congress to pass a bill to enable automatic voter registration for all, which she conceded would not be easy, especially since Republicans currently control Congress.
“Every young man or young women should be automatically registered to vote when they turn 18 unless they actively choose to opt-out,” she said. “I think this would have a profound impact on our elections and our democracy.”
Since younger voters tend to be more liberal than older voters, automatically registering them would most likely help Democrats.
She also called on Congress to pass a bill that would require “20 days of early in-person voting everywhere, including opportunities for weekend and evening voting.”
“If families coming out of church on Sundays are inspired to vote, they should be able to do just that,” she said, targeting her comments to black voters she will need to turn out for her in a potential general election.
Clinton also called for legislation that would require the federal government to pre-clear voting changes in states that had been covered under Voting Rights Act. The Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 in a 5-4 decision, which freed states like Texas from being subject to the Act’s pre-clearance provision. Clinton also said America needs to “modernize our entire approach to registration,” and she suggested that, “when you move your registration should move with you.”
Clinton’s team has made a concerted effort to challenge anti-fraud voting laws across before the 2016 elections, alleging that those laws disenfranchise voters who are more likely to be Democrats. Though a strong majority of Americans support voter ID laws and others enacted to prevent fraud, Clinton’s campaign lawyer recently filed lawsuits challenging voting reform laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, which will be two of the most important battleground states in 2016.
Orlando Watson, the Republican National Committee’s communications director for black media, said that Clinton’s rhetoric on voting rights “is misleading and divisive” because “in reality, the vast majority of Americans – including minority voters – support commonsense measures to prevent voter fraud.” He also pointed out that “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.”
“Her exploitation of this issue only underscores why voters find her dishonest and untrustworthy,” Watson added, referring to the numerous national polls that have found that a majority of Americans do not think Clinton is “honest and trustworthy.”