Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Comentarios from Maria: Hillary Clinton will fight for the Right to Vote for all

maria

Last week I spoke of the fundamental importance of having fair and competitive elections in our democracy, and in a recent speech in Texas, ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, one of the Democratic presidential candidates, spoke of another privilege of a free democracy: the right to vote. This right is the very essence of our democracy, something enshrined in our Constitution, a right of each American citizen. But Secretary Clinton reminded us too that there are powerful forces on the right who are prepared to obstruct and deny this right to populations they consider to be threats to their own electoral gains.

To better understand Mrs. Clinton’s point we would have to look back to 2013, when the Supreme Court annihilated one of the most significant sections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The provision that was eliminated required special scrutiny of the electoral laws of the states that had a history of racial discrimination. From then on, Republican legislators and states dominated by the GOP – especially those located in the South and who have an awful record of discrimination – have dedicated themselves to pass laws restricting the right to vote.

It is no coincidence that those states that have implemented these laws to suppress voters have a high population of minorities and communities which have historically been marginalized and oppressed. According to a study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice, 9 of the 12 states with the largest growth in Latino population between 2000 and 2010 have passed laws aimed at suppressing the minority vote.

The pretext that these legislators use to institute these laws is that they are doing so in order to preserve the integrity of the electoral process against the growing threat of electoral fraud. But, as Mrs. Clinton noted, this so-called epidemic of electoral fraud is a mere product of the Republican Party’s imagination. Clinton also observed that many of the Republican presidential hopefuls are at the forefront of these restrictive measures.

Moved by the fear of losing their privileges, these candidates have aligned themselves with the Republican Party line of thought that has determined that the road to victory excludes the vote and voices of minorities. As Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush passed measures restricting early voting and carried out a purge of eligible voters before the presidential elections of 2000. Ex-governor of Texas, Rick Perry, passed legislation that instituted strict requirements of voter identification. It might seem like a joke, but in Texas, you are allowed to use a firearm license as a form of voter ID, but a student ID will not be accepted. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are among the most ardent instigators and defenders of laws that impede a smooth voting process. And in Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker has enacted some of the most restrictive measures in the entire country, which not only impose voter ID requirements but also dramatically cut the early voting period and eliminate extended voting hours.

However, we can be sure that Hillary Clinton will not tolerate these injustices. She has already begun to fight to restore the confidence of voters by way of concrete solutions that include universal voter registration of voters upon their 18th birthday, and will support access to early voting at a minimum 20 days if she were to win the White House. Simply put, Hillary Clinton understands that the actions of the GOP are not only a threat to our democracy, but rather an affront to the dignity and rights of every voter.

This piece originally appeared in Spanish in the Washington Hispanic.