Bill Clinton Compares New GOP Voting Laws to Jim Crow Era

Bill Clinton Compares New GOP Voting Laws to Jim Crow Era

Former President Bill Clinton said GOP legislatures are trying to implement Jim Crow laws and poll taxes to prevent young and minority voters from fairly casting their ballots.

Published July 6, 2011

Former President Bill Clinton, in remarks delivered to the Campus Progress National Conference on Wednesday, likened GOP efforts to stiffen voter ID regulations to Jim Crow laws and poll taxes.


“I can’t help thinking, since we just celebrated the Fourth of July and we’re supposed to be a country dedicated to liberty, that one of the most pervasive political movements going on outside Washington today is the disciplined, passionate, determined effort of governors to keep most of you from voting next time,” Clinton told the group of college activists.


In addition, he said, “There has never been in my lifetime, since we got rid of the poll tax and all the Jim Crow burdens on voting, the determined effort to limit the franchise that we see today.”


Clinton also cited the move in Florida to overturn state precedent that allows convicted felons to vote once they’ve finished their probations, charging that Gov. Rick Scott wanted to disenfranchise African-Americans and Hispanics who’ve paid their price because they tend to vote for Democrats.


He also criticized a New Hampshire proposal, that the state’s Democratic governor is blocking, that would stop local college students who come from other states from registering to vote where they go to school. Other states, like Ohio, would eliminate early voting options and a week-long period during which voters can register and vote. In May, Wisconsin passed a law that lengthens the residency requirement for voters and calls for them to show photo identification.


“Why is all of this going on? This is not rocket science. They are trying to make the 2012 electorate look more like the 2010 electorate than the 2008 electorate,” which resulted in more Democratic majorities across the country and on Capitol Hill, Clinton said.


He also stressed the urgency of young adults being informed about legislative policy and sharing what they learn with each other. Young voters played a pivotal role during the 2008 election cycle, and helped President Obama win the White House. In 2010, however, their enthusiasm and other's waned, enabling Republicans to gain control of the U.S. House of Representatives and several state legislatures across the country.


“You can’t turn truth into power if the ultimate holders of power, the citizens themselves, don’t know the facts,” Clinton said.  “I say this to encourage your activism, but your activism has to include sharing what you know with your generation, so they truly understand what’s at stake."

(Photo: AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

Written by Joyce Jones


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