Hillary Clinton: Voter suppression has led to 'crisis in democracy' in the US

Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe Memo: Centrists change tone of Democratic race In 2020, democracy will be decided at the margins Michelle Obama presents Lin-Manuel Miranda with National Portrait Award MORE on Tuesday said that voter suppression aimed at keeping women and people of color from the polls has brought the U.S. to a “crisis in democracy.”

Speaking at George Washington University, Clinton accused Republicans of rolling back voter protections and employing tactics aimed at keeping racial minorities from the polls.

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Clinton said she had been counseling Democratic White House hopefuls to warn them that voter suppression, hacking, fake news stories and a lack of election security in 2016 had contributed to her own election loss and that a failure to address those issues could lead Democrats to defeat once again in 2020.

“This is one of those moments we stand at a crossroads of our own a crisis in democracy,” Clinton said. “Racists and white supremacist views are lifted up in the media and the White House. Hard fought for civil rights are stripped back. Rule of law is being undermined, our norms and institutions ... are under assault, and that includes the single most important fight of our times…the fight to protect the right to vote.”

Clinton has mostly cut a low profile since her shocking 2016 election loss to President TrumpDonald John TrumpMost Americans break with Trump on Ukraine, but just 45 percent think he should be removed: poll Judge orders Democrats to give notice if they request Trump's NY tax returns Trump's doctor issues letter addressing 'speculation' about visit to Walter Reed MORE.

On Tuesday, addressing a group of about 300 people in Washington, Clinton said she was moved back into the spotlight by work done by those such as Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia in 2018. 

Abrams has said that election was stolen from her and formed a voting rights group to combat allegations of suppression at the polls.

“We are witnessing a deliberate and ongoing effort to undermine the integrity of our elections and silence millions of Americans ... particularly women, the elderly and people of color,” Clinton said.

“It’s no accident,” she continued. “It’s in service to their larger goals of obtaining and keeping power.” 

Clinton said that in 2016, 200,000 people in Wisconsin were turned away from the polls.

Clinton has often faced criticism for not visiting Wisconsin during the 2016 campaign.

President Trump narrowly won the state, becoming the first Republican candidate in decades to carry The Badger State. 

“Officials [in Wisconsin] made every excuse in the books to prevent people from voting,” Clinton said.

“You can run the best campaign and have the best plans and get the nomination and win the popular vote and you can lose the Electoral College and therefore the election,” she added.

The former Secretary of State — whose emails were hacked and released at the height of the 2016 campaign — warned that the individual campaigns are ill-equipped to deal with cyber threats, which she said should be addressed by the federal government.

Clinton warned that “phony, false online news stories” are wreaking havoc on the election process, pointing to the Comet Pizza incident, in which a gunman showed up at a Washington pizzeria, believing an online rumor that Clinton was running a child sex ring there.

She also blamed Trump for spreading “fake endorsements and outright lies” about Democrats, saying his reelection campaign is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on Facebook ads each week that violate the social media company’s terms of service.

And Clinton warned that Russians and other foreign governments are preparing to meddle in the election once again and that the U.S. has done nothing to keep them out.

“We have a fundamental set of threats to the bedrock of our democracy, and anyone who stands in the way of confronting those threats, from Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFeehery: Pivoting to infrastructure could help heal post-impeachment wounds McConnell urges Trump to voice support for Hong Kong protesters Key GOP senator: 'We need a breakthrough' on spending talks MORE and his allies, to the president himself, is abdicating their responsibility to protect and defend the constitution,” Clinton said. 

“I was the first person who ran for president in more than 50 years without the protection of the Voting Rights Act,” she added.

“And let me just say, it makes a difference. We saw it once again in 2018, a case study in voter suppression. Voters faced intimidation and harassment ... voter ID requirements amounted to a modern-day poll tax. Voter ID requirements made up for the purpose of prevention of certain people to cast a vote that would be counted. There were fewer voting places, longer lines and malfunctioning equipment in certain places.”