New Pro-Hillary Clinton Group Aims to Protect Latino, African-American Voting Rights
Prominent Hillary Clinton supporters have created a $25-million non-partisan organization aimed at protecting and expanding voting rights for minorities.
Every Citizen Counts formed in August, but intentionally chose not to engage caucus-goers and primary voters in Iowa and New Hampshire this month, instead focusing on educating Latinos and African-Americans about the impact they have on Election Day.
"There have been too many efforts to restrict access to the polls, making it even more difficult to vote," ECC adviser Guy Cecil told The Associated Press. "We will engage at all levels: pushing for stronger legislation around early voting, same day registration and vote by mail, waging legal battles to roll back onerous laws and registering voters in underrepresented communities across the country."
Cecil was Clinton's aid during her 2008 presidential run, and he currently heads one of Clinton's bigger super PACs, Priorities USA Action. ECC isn't quite a super PAC, and Clinton isn't directly involved, but the former secretary of state stands to gain from their involvement, if only by drawing more Latinos to punch presidential ballots in her favor.
State Voter ID Laws
One of the group's first goals is to expand voting rights in Georgia, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin. Both Missouri and Wisconsin carry strict photo ID laws. Citizens in these states without valid identification have a handful of days to present appropriate ID for their provisional ballot to count, even if they don't have the transportation or funds to purchase ID cards from the local DMV.
An extensive 2014 U.S. Government Accountability Office survey found state voter ID laws disproportionately affect minorities. In five states -- Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kansas, and Tennessee -- 8 percent fewer Latino and African-American registered voters held valid IDs compared to white voters. Less than half of provisional ballots cast in these states during the 2012 presidential election were eventually counted.
In a statement, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said ECC will be a "powerful ally to those who want to make registration and voting easier and fairer. This is at the heart of what it means to be an American." He is one of the organization's top donors and will play a vital role for Clinton in the Peach State when Super Tuesday takes place on March 1.
Clinton's Wall Street Ties
The organization's focus, outside of helping voters, is to help Clinton without referencing her by name.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has repeatedly taken subtle swipes at Clinton for accepting money from big donors, ranging from super PACs to Goldman Sachs. In his New Hampshire victory speech on Tuesday night, Sanders took a minute to remind supporters that he doesn't need corporate funds to run a successful campaign.
"I am going to New York City tonight and tomorrow, but I'm not going to New York City to hold a fundraiser on Wall Street. Instead, I'm going to hold a fundraiser right here, right now, across America," Sanders said.
Cecil, for his part, emphasized that ECC is not affiliated with Priority USA Actions and will not have an influence in either the South Carolina primaries or Nevada caucuses.
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