Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE on Saturday accused Alabama lawmakers of advancing “discriminatory” laws to roll back voting rights, as she looks to shore up support with black voters.
In her first visit to Alabama as a presidential candidate, Clinton elevated her call for voting rights as she condemned the state’s decision last week to close 31 driver’s license offices. Nearly all of the offices were in predominantly black neighborhoods.
She urged Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley and his Republican-controlled legislature to keep the offices open, and “not just for one day a month."
“Here in Alabama, without the right kind of ID, it’s nearly impossible to vote,” she said as the packed room boomed with applause.
“It’s hard to believe we are back having this same debate about whether every American gets a chance to vote,” she declared, raising her voice as the cheers grew louder. “This is a blast from the Jim Crow past.”
Alabama’s decision to shutter driver’s license offices – which the governor said is a result of budget cuts – has drawn attention nationwide because of the state’s strict voter ID law passed last year.
Democrats have claimed the decision is politically driven because each of the closures takes place in neighborhoods with populations that are at least 75 percent black.
Clinton described the law as "discriminatory and demeaning” – and one which should be repealed.
In Alabama and across the country, Clinton said states should do more to make it easier to vote. She pointed to efforts by states like Oregon, which recently made voter registration automatic for anyone who receives a driver’s license.
She also called for early voting days, weekend and evening voting, and restoring the voting rights of former convicts who have “done their time.”
Alabama, which critics say has one of the nation’s worst records of minority voting rights, has cracked down further in the wake of a Supreme Court ruling in 2013 that empowered states to shape their own voting laws. Before 2013, states had to seek approval from the Justice Department before enacting the laws.
Clinton delivered remarks to a convention of the Alabama Democratic Conference – a group formed in the 1960s to encourage black Americans to vote Democratic. Tickets to the event cost about $150, according to AL.com.
Earlier Saturday, Clinton hosted a fundraiser that cost $500 per ticket and up.