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Biden pushes for voting rights on MLK Day

Vice President Joe Biden on Monday launched a blistering attack on Republican-backed voter-identification laws during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day speech in Washington, and urged civil rights activists to fight to halt a “hailstorm” of new voting laws and restore recently-abolished provisions of the Voting Rights Act.

“Our opponents know, they know, the single most dangerous thing to give us is the right to vote! They know what that is,” an animated Biden told the audience at that National Action Network’s Annual Martin Luther King Day Breakfast, held at the Mayflower Hotel.

Biden also strongly criticized the Supreme Court’s 2013 ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which requires certain states and localities with a history of discrimination prior to 1965 to have any changes to election law cleared by the federal government.

“Justice Ginsburg [writing for the dissent] got it right when she said throwing out the existing process when it’s working, and continues to work, is ‘like throwing away an umbrella in a rainstorm because you’re not getting wet,’ ” Biden said. “Now we’re in a hailstorm, [with] new attempts by states and localities to limit ballot access without the full protection of the law.” 

Biden also spoke briefly on other issues, saying the U.S. was “on the brink” of passing immigration reform and an increase to the minimum wage.

He also said that, with the rollout of ObamaCare last fall, the battle over access to affordable healthcare is “over.”

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