Hillary Clinton will dive headlong into the voting rights wars with a speech Thursday at historically black Texas Southern University in Houston. In a preview of the speech, the Washington Post is reporting that Clinton will call for new laws guaranteeing at least 20 days of early voting nationwide. The move comes as Team Hillary shows other signs that it intends to make voting rights a priority of her campaign.
“This is, I think, a moment when we should be expanding the franchise,” Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta told the Post. “What we see in state after state is this effort by conservatives to restrict the right to vote.
The choice of a historically black college as the venue for the speech is symbolic, as is Texas, which is the target of the Justice Department’s big Voting Rights Act case since the Roberts’ Supreme Court gutted the landmark civil rights law in 2013. At issue is the state’s 2011 voter ID law which the Justice Department alleges disenfranchises minorities and other Democratic-leaning constituencies.
In recent weeks, the Clinton campaign’s top lawyer Marc Elias has filed challenges to voting laws in Ohio and Wisconsin — both states with Republican governors considered to be White House contenders. Those challenges are in addition to a 2014 lawsuit he was already pursuing against North Carolina’s election laws. The Ohio and Wisconsin complaints are technically separate from Clinton’s campaign, but her spokesman Brian Fallon said in statement to MSNBC, “[W]e are aware of it and strongly support its goal of ensuring the right to vote is not unduly burdened.”
In Thursday’s speech, Clinton is also expected to call on Congress to restore the provisions of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court threw out in 2013, the Post reported.