Policy: Law

Obama: High court ruling 'weakened' voting rights

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Politics,White House,Supreme Court,Voter Registration,Eric Holder,PennAve,Voter ID Laws,Meghashyam Mali,Law

President Obama in his State of the Union address criticized the Supreme Court decision striking down key provisions of the Voting Rights Act, saying the ruling had “weakened” the law.

The president vowed in his speech to Congress that his administration would work to protect voting rights and implement the findings of an election commission he established to ease Americans' problems at the polls.

“Citizenship means standing up for everyone’s right to vote. Last year, part of the Voting Rights Act was weakened,” said Obama on Tuesday night. “But conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats are working together to strengthen it; and the bipartisan commission I appointed last year has offered reforms so that no one has to wait more than a half hour to vote.

“Let’s support these efforts,” the president urged lawmakers. “It should be the power of our vote, not the size of our bank account, that drives our democracy.”

Obama announced his election commission during last year’s State of the Union address, following reports that many voters in the 2012 election were forced to deal with long lines at the polls and broken voting equipment.

The bipartisan panel suggested reforms they said would help meet their goal of ensuring that no American had to wait more than 30 minutes to cast a ballot.

The Obama administration has also vowed to aggressively contest voter identification laws across the country its says unfairly discriminates against minority voters.

Attorney General Eric Holder is suing the state of Texas to prevent its new voter ID laws from taking effect. Supporters of the measures, though, say they are needed to prevent electoral fraud.

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