By Justin Sink - 04/07/14 10:26 AM EDT
Vice President Biden calls on Democrats to "stand up and fight back" against efforts to impose new voter identification requirements in a video for the Democratic National Committee posted Monday.
"I've got to tell you, if someone had told me 10 years ago I'd have to make a pitch for protecting voting rights today, I would have said, 'you've got to be kidding,' " Biden said.
Biden said that voting access issues had seemed settled, and cited instances of former President Reagan or former Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-S.C.) backing voting rights legislation.
"I thought at that time the only debate we'd be having now is how to continue to expand the voting franchise," Biden said. "But last year, when the Supreme Court cut the heart out of the Voting Rights Act, it opened up the floodgates to voter-suppression efforts nationwide."
The ruling struck down a provision of the law that required certain jurisdictions with a history of voting suppression to clear any changes in their voting laws with the Justice Department. The court said Congress could update the pre-clearance formula, but lawmakers have been unable to agree on new standards.
Some Southern states have subsequently moved aggressively to impose new, tougher voter ID requirements. Supporters of the legislation, including many Republicans, argue the new standards help prevent voter fraud.
But civil rights groups and Democrats have blasted the legislation as an attempt to suppress the vote among poor and minority voters, who are less likely to have government-issued photo identification. They also argue that instances of voter fraud are exceedingly rare.
The vice president's video was cut in support of the Democratic National Committee's Voter Expansion Project, a bid to educate voters and campaign staffers about the voting process.
Last month, former President Clinton also cut a Web video for the DNC touting the campaign.
"There is no greater assault on our core values than the rampant efforts to restrict the right to vote," Clinton said.
President Obama will deliver the keynote address at a civil rights summit on Thursday at the LBJ Presidential Library commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act. Clinton and former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush are also expected to speak at the summit.