Hillary Clinton to outline voting rights platform in Texas speech today

Hillary Clinton will give a speech on voting rights at an event later today at Texas Southern University, a historically black college. As The New York Times reports, aside from going after her Republican rivals — many of whom are governors or former governors who enacted some of the most arcane restrictions on voting rights in the country — and highlighting Texas’s especially poor record of making it harder for its citizens to vote:

She will also propose a nationwide early-voting standard of at least 20 days before an election, call for an increase in online voter registration and restate her position that ex-felons should have their voting rights restored.

The choice of Texas, particularly an HBCU in Texas, for a speech on voting rights is symbolic in and of itself. Texas has some of the strictest voter ID laws on the books, and is currently embroiled in a number of voter suppression controversies. In the past week alone, Texas has been the center of attention in stories regarding limiting “one person, one vote” to eligible voters, denying US-born children of immigrants birth certificates and systematically canceling the voter registrations of citizens who changed their address through the DMV.

UPDATE: Clinton went ahead and called for universal, automatic voter registration in her speech, going beyond what the New York Times reported she would call for yesterday.

In the last few weeks, Hillary Clinton’s general counsel, Marc Elias, has brought lawsuits against a number of states that have passed a series of voter suppression bills in recent years. A lawsuit against Wisconsin’s litany of voting restrictions was announced earlier this week, while a lawsuit against Ohio’s restrictions was announced in May. Georgia, Nevada and Virginia could be next in line as Elias attempts to roll back laws that have systematically disenfranchised low-income, minority and senior voters. While Elias is bringing these lawsuits independently from his role in the Clinton campaign, the choice to bring lawsuits in swing-ier states, as opposed to deep-red states like Alabama with similarly extreme restrictions, shows their clear electoral interest.

Hillary Clinton, via Brett Weinstein / Flickr

Hillary Clinton, via Brett Weinstein / Flickr

But going beyond the lawsuits, it’s refreshing to see forward-looking policy proposals from Clinton that advance voting rights, however modest, rather than only making defensive reactions to voting rights violations that have already taken place. Actively endorsing electoral reforms that would expand ballot access is a big first step that could signal her making the issue central to her campaign. Especially as these lawsuits in swing states unfold, voting rights is bound to pop up in the news cycle on a semi-regular basis between now and November 2016.

There’s also something to be said for her specific choice of policies. There is no good (or even bad) argument against online voter registration, so it will be great to see GOP candidates try to rationalize opposing it. However, to my knowledge no major presidential candidate has ever called for felon restoration of rights — a central piece of any criminal justice reform agenda. Last month, a restoration of rights bill in Maryland was vetoed by Governor Larry Hogan, drawing the ire of voting rights and criminal justice reform advocates both in and out of the state.

While the Obama administration has endorsed felon restoration of rights, that announcement didn’t come until last year, after President Obama’s reelection.

However, we should hold off on being too excited about Hillary’s call for nationwide early voting. While it gets the political message across, planting a rhetorical flag on the side of open democracy, evidence for it resulting in more voters at the end of the day is mixed at best.

In a 2013 study published in the American Journal of Political Science, researchers found that early voting by itself actually decreases voter turnout, as it robs “Election Day of its stimulating effects.” Social pressure plays a major role in voter turnout, and social pressure is going to be far lower if Election “Day” is spread out over 21 days. Campaigns also have less of an incentive to mobilize voters during the run-up to Election Day as they do in states without early voting, as the marginal benefit of each dollar spent during the GOTV phase of a campaign diminishes with each vote cast before then.

The same study found that same-day voter registration did boost turnout — a finding that has been corroborated by subsequent research — and it didn’t take mail-in voting into consideration. States with mail-in balloting have consistently higher rates of voter turnout than states with in-person voting.

To be clear, this isn’t to say that early voting is a bad idea altogether; it’s only to say that there are better ideas that should come first. Aside from same-day registration and/or mail-in voting (to say nothing of automatic voter registration), that list includes making Election Day a national holiday, standardizing the ballot and standardizing the polling place.

And, of course, online voter registration and felon restoration of rights.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • 2karmanot

    Thanks Bill!

  • Mirth is a very long-time commenter here, and is far from a right-winger.
    You, however, are quite new. It would behoove you to tone down your rhetoric and become more familiar with others’ comments before you start flinging insults around.
    Consider this a warning.

  • guest4455

    The radical right hates when large numbers of people vote. It will be a great joy to see the right wingers get SHELLACKED in 2016. Can any of the radical right wing nuts find a path to 270 electoral votes? hahahaha

  • guest4455

    Sorry skippy, the electoral college is what determines if you become president. You right wing vermin are dead meat in 2016. Get your concession speech ready. ‘)

    As Bill Clinton would say, “It’s arithmetic.”

    Hillary Clinton will likely win the 2016 election and become our nation’s 45th president, and it’s all about basic electoral math.

    In each of the last six presidential elections, including the John Kerry loss of ’04, the same group of 18 states and Washington D.C. fell into the Democratic column pretty much by default, leaving Republicans with the unenviable task of having to sweep the remaining toss-up states in order to win.

    Yes, George W. Bush ran the gamut — by razor-thin margins, I might add — in swing states in the 2004 election,
    but that was before we began to see a consistent leftward shift in
    places like Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Ohio and Iowa, which Barack Obama had no trouble putting away in two consecutive elections.

    If we’re mindful of recent history, it’s probably safe to say that
    Mrs. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will start 2016 with
    that same 18-state (and D.C.) cushion the Democrats have enjoyed for
    more than two decades.

    In other words, Clinton can already count on 242 of the 270 electoral
    votes she needs to become the nation’s first female president — and
    there has been no seismic shift toward Republicans during the Obama
    years that suggests otherwise.

    In fact, if anything has changed over the course of the past two
    presidential elections, it’s that more states have been put in play for
    the Democrats, only reinforcing their “blue wall” and making it more
    daunting for the GOP to compete in those all-important swing states.

    In the six previous elections, Republicans have only been able to
    bank on 13 states, totaling 102 electoral votes. And, while they like to
    talk about snagging a blue state like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, they
    haven’t really even come close.

    In a recent Marquette poll, Clinton leads Wisconsin Governor — and 2016 probable — Scott Walker by double digits in his own state.

    The GOP’s race-to-the-right primary season, combined with an economy
    that is significantly better and demographics that continue to trend
    toward Democrats, is only icing on the electoral cake for the former
    Secretary of State.

  • guest4455

    The American people have REJECTED you right wing wacko birds in the popular vote in the last 5 out of 6 presidential elections. You right wingers are TOAST in 2016. ;)

  • guest4455

    Polls don’t vote LOSER. The electoral college is the only thing that matters. Hillary will win black, latino, gay, young, and woman voters. All of these groups will reject you racist conservative wackos. ;)

  • guest4455

    you radical right wing nut jobs will become 3 time presidential election LOSERS in Nov 2016. Get used to that reality wingnut. Conservatism is a mental disease.

    As Bill Clinton would say, “It’s arithmetic.”

    Hillary Clinton will likely win the 2016 election and become our nation’s 45th president, and it’s all about basic electoral math.

    In each of the last six presidential elections, including the John Kerry loss of ’04, the same group of 18 states and Washington D.C. fell into the Democratic column pretty much by default, leaving Republicans with the unenviable task of having to sweep the remaining toss-up states in order to win.

    Yes, George W. Bush ran the gamut — by razor-thin margins, I might add — in swing states in the 2004 election,
    but that was before we began to see a consistent leftward shift in
    places like Virginia, New Mexico, Nevada, and even Ohio and Iowa, which Barack Obama had no trouble putting away in two consecutive elections.

    If we’re mindful of recent history, it’s probably safe to say that
    Mrs. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic nominee, will start 2016 with
    that same 18-state (and D.C.) cushion the Democrats have enjoyed for
    more than two decades.

    In other words, Clinton can already count on 242 of the 270 electoral
    votes she needs to become the nation’s first female president — and
    there has been no seismic shift toward Republicans during the Obama
    years that suggests otherwise.

    In fact, if anything has changed over the course of the past two
    presidential elections, it’s that more states have been put in play for
    the Democrats, only reinforcing their “blue wall” and making it more
    daunting for the GOP to compete in those all-important swing states.

    In the six previous elections, Republicans have only been able to
    bank on 13 states, totaling 102 electoral votes. And, while they like to
    talk about snagging a blue state like Wisconsin or Pennsylvania, they
    haven’t really even come close.

    In a recent Marquette poll, Clinton leads Wisconsin Governor — and 2016 probable — Scott Walker by double digits in his own state.

    The GOP’s race-to-the-right primary season, combined with an economy
    that is significantly better and demographics that continue to trend
    toward Democrats, is only icing on the electoral cake for the former
    Secretary of State.

  • mirth

    Neither Murdoch or his Post is trying to undercut Hillary. The news article reported on a nationwide poll, a poll also reported in many other outlets. In this instance, it was nothing and nothing less.

  • mirth

    Since you are not, evidently, up on news, and since you cannot decipher a comment meaning and since you cannot distinguish between what you may read on a blog thread and the craziness that goes on in your head:

    In a speech in Washington on March 17 Clinton said of the Bosnia trip: “I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base.”

    She also told CNN last week: “There was no greeting ceremony and we were basically told to run to our cars. Now that is what happened.”

    Several news outlets disputed the claim and a video of the trip, showed Clinton walking from the plane, accompanied by her daughter. They were greeted by a young girl in a small ceremony on the tarmac and there was no sign of tension or any danger.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/03/26/us-usa-politics-clinton-idUSN2540811420080326

  • Bill_Perdue

    I’m surprised that he’s trying to undercut HRH HRC. He gave her a $100,000.00 or more in 2008.

    “Conservative media mogul Rupert Murdoch will host a fundraiser for liberal New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, the Financial Times reports. … The mating ritual of the unlikely allies has been under way for months. Clinton set political tongues to wagging last month by attending a Washington party celebrating the 10th anniversary of Fox News, the cable news channel owned by Murdoch. … Clinton has worked hard to take the edge off her reputation as a card-carrying liberal. She has has collaborated with congressional conservatives on some peices of legislation, called for a “common ground” on abortion and cut a political figure some on the left see as decidedly un-liberal. “http://www.cbsnews.com/news/rupert-murdoch-loves-hillary-clinton/

  • FLL

    I’m not disputing the fact that Hillary is down in a large number of polls. Of course she is; we’re all aware of that. Why not just quote those polls or the many other news sources that have referred to those polls? I just thought it was humorous that you’re getting your news from the New York Post. I suppose some might think that Hillary dodging bullets in Republican “open-carry” country is humorous as well, but that will vary from reader to reader.

  • mirth

    You evidently did not notice that the Post is reporting a CNN/ORC poll:
    http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2015/images/06/01/2016.poll.pdf

    And you are not, evidently, up on current news.

    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/hillary-clinton-down-matchups-potential-2016-contenders
    http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/hillary-clintons-poll-numbers-come-back-down-earth

    As for the rest of your mumbles…you dumb git.

  • FLL

    The New York Post? Rupert Mudoch’s right-wing tabloid-style newspaper? Seriously? OK, let me see if I’ve overlooked a worthier part of your comment.

    Did she replace her kitten heels with sneakers? Always the chance she might have to duck ‘n run down in open-carry country.

    It’s legal to carry handguns openly, rather than concealed, in many states in the South, Plains and interior West. So you’re suggesting Hillary might have to “duck ‘n run” to avoid being gunned down? Your violent invective might be acceptable or it might be a little over the top, but that’s for the folks who run this blog to judge. But Rupert Murdoch’s paper? Some mighty strange company you keep, mirth.

  • mirth

    Who cares what comes out of her lying, greedy, self-serving piehole?

    Did she replace her kitten heels with sneakers? Always the chance she might have to duck ‘n run down in open-carry country.

    Hillary Rodham Clinton took a serious beating in a poll released Tuesday — with a majority of voters describing her as dishonest and untrustworthy.

    http://nypost.com/2015/06/03/majority-of-voters-think-hillary-clinton-is-a-liar/

    Slip slidin’ away
    Slip slidin’ away
    You know the nearer her destination
    The more she’s slip slidin’ away

  • Bill_Perdue

    Parties

    http://socialistaction.org/

    http://www.socialistalternative.org/

    http://www.kclabor.org/kclaborparty.htm

    http://www.laborstandard.org/

    The Greens are still a capitalist party although there are some signs they’re moving left.

    Restrictions

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/politics-july-dec04-third_parties/

    http://www.rangevoting.org/BallAccess.html

    Polling

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/125645/socialism-viewed-positively-americans.aspx

    • 72% of Americans “favor raising taxes on those making more than $250,000/year to cut the deficit.” (Washington Post-ABC poll, July 2011) http://www.cleveland.com/nation/index.ssf/2011/08/democrats_break_their_silence.html

    • Americans were asked: “To balance the federal budget, which of the following would be the first step you would take?” They responded:
    • 61% Tax the rich
    20% Cut the military
    4% Cut Medicare
    3% Cut Social Security
    http://www.vanityfair.com/magazine/2011/02/60-minutes-poll-201102?currentPage=all

    • 78% of Americans want “universal healthcare.” 59% support a “national health insurance program similar to Medicare, but covering everyone.” (CBS/New York Times poll, Feb. 2009)

    • 67% support raising the minimum wage to at least $10/hour.

    (Public Religion Research Institute, June 2010) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/06/americans-minimum-wage-poll_n_752921.html

    • The percent of Americans who think “the country has gotten pretty seriously off on the wrong track” has risen to 77%. (ABC News/Washington Post poll, Sept. 2011) http://www.pollingreport.com/right.htm

    • 67% of Americans think “corporations, banks, and financial institutions have too much power,” and 71% think “lobbyists have too much power.” (Gallup poll, March 2011) http://www.gallup.com/poll/147026/Americans-Decry-Power-Lobbyists-Corporations-Banks-Feds.aspx

    • 58% “think the Republicans and Democrats do such a poor job of representing the people that a third party is needed.”
    (USA Today Gallup Poll, Aug. 2010) http://www.gallup.com/poll/143051/Americans-Renew-Call-Third-Party.aspx

    • The highest number of voters in history are registered as independents, 34%. (Rasmussen Reports, Aug. 2011)www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/mood_of_america/partisan_trends

  • 2karmanot

    Bill, since you clearly believe and surly have evidence that the Democrats have imposed severe restrictions on the rights of left-wing and labor parties please give us a list and some links so that we may consider the evidence and make reasoned choices. Many of us have been long in the battle and understandably have grown cynical if not completely withdrawn from the mainstream of what was once a progressive Democrat Party. I start with Chris Hedges myself.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The US will remain a plutocracy no matter how many restrictions are placed on voting rights or removed from state laws.

    Democrats and Republicans impose severe restrictions on the rights of leftwing and labor parties, making it difficult, if not impossible, to get on the ballot, raise money or get an equal viewing in the press.

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