Hillary Clinton knows she won’t be able to count on the more than 60 million votes that Barack Obama secured to win the White House in both 2008 and 2012. Instead of wallowing in self pity, Clinton’s campaign has come up with a game plan to make sure that the former Secretary of State’s path to the coronation remains unblemished: expanding the electorate.
On May 29, Marc Elias, the lead lawyer for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, was among those who filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin challenging the state’s voter-ID law. The suit claims that the law, passed under Clinton’s likely 2016 rival Governor Scott Walker, suppresses voting rights:
This lawsuit concerns the most fundamental of rights guaranteed citizens in our representative democracy — the right to vote. That right has been under attack in Wisconsin since Republicans gained control of the governor’s office and both houses of the State Legislature in the 2010 election. Indeed, since 2011, the State of Wisconsin has twice reduced in-person absentee (“early”) voting, introduced restrictions on voter registration, changed its residency requirements, enacted a law that encourages invasive poll monitoring, eliminated straight-ticket voting, eliminated for most (but not all) citizens the option to obtain an absentee ballot by fax or email, and imposed a voter identification (“voter ID”) requirement.
Following widespread voter-registration fraud in the 2008 presidential election, many states led by Republican governors quickly moved to pass voter-ID laws in an attempt to ensure the integrity of future elections. The accusations of rampant fraud surrounding the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) — a group to which the Clinton Family Foundation donated $10,000 — showcased the immense pressure the organization had placed on low-level employees to meet their voter-registration quotas. After several subsequent scandals, Congress eliminated federal funding for ACORN, and the group was forced to disband and file for bankruptcy.
During a June 4 speech at the historically black Texas Southern University, where she was receiving the Barbara Jordan Public-Private Leadership Award, Hillary Clinton said, “Forty years after Barbara Jordan fought to extend the Voting Rights Act, its heart has been ripped out. 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.”
“Since the Supreme Court eviscerated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013, many of the states that previously faced special scrutiny because of a history of racial discrimination have proposed and passed new laws that make it harder than ever to vote,” she continued.
Democrats continue to cry “voter suppression” the moment the words “ID” and “election” are used in the same sentence.
The lawsuit filed in Wisconsin echoes the same message, claiming, “These measures were intended to burden, abridge, and deny, and have had and will have the effect of burdening, abridging, and denying, the voting rights of Wisconsinites generally and of African-American, Latino, young, and/or Democratic voters in Wisconsin in particular.”
When the United States Supreme Court declined to take up a challenge to the Wisconsin voter-ID law earlier this year, Lisa Blatt, a Washington appellate lawyer, wrote in a brief on behalf of those challenging the law, “Millions of registered voters, disproportionately African Americans and Latinos, lack a qualifying photo ID needed to vote under laws in Wisconsin and other states.” An estimate given by a federal judge stated that about nine percent of registered voters in Wisconsin potentially lack the proper identification that the law requires.
While most states that pass these laws typically include provisions that provide free ID’s to anyone who doesn’t already have one, the majority of Democrats continue to cry “voter suppression” the moment the words “ID” and “election” are used in the same sentence. Although identification cards are required for a variety of things, from purchasing cigarettes and alcohol to applying for food stamps, if Clinton’s camp has anything to say about it, they won’t be required for voters.
In an interview with CNN’s Dana Bash at Iowa senator Joni Ernst’s Roast and Ride event over the weekend, Governor Walker responded to Clinton’s criticism of voter ID laws. “That’s something that I feel Hillary Clinton’s opposition to puts her out of touch with mainstream Americans,” Walker said. “Pulling out a photo ID is a perfectly logical and common sense thing to do.”
Various studies place the number of voters who don’t have an ID at anywhere between 5 and 16 percent of the electorate. Clinton knows that those voters could decide whether she wins the presidency. And at Texas Southern, she made clear that she aims to go beyond challenging voter-ID laws — championing the provision of at least twenty days of early, in-person voting and automatic voter registration for all U.S. citizens once they turn 18 — to help boost the number of ballots in her column.
— Julia Porterfield is an intern at National Review, editor-in-chief of Red Millennial, and a junior at Regent University.