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April 12, 2014

Obama: Right to vote under threat in the US

(Continued)

NEW YORK —

The president pinned efforts to curb access to the ballot box directly on the GOP, declaring that the effort "has not been led by both parties. It's been led by the Republican Party." Mocking the Republicans, he said, "What kind of political platform is that? Why would you make that a part of your agenda, preventing people from voting?"

Republicans have argued that they voter laws seek to safeguard the voting process and are not an attempt to limit Democratic turnout.

A spokeswoman for Republican Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a state whose voting laws are being challenged by the Obama administration, said the Supreme Court has ruled that voter identification laws are constitutional.

"Protecting the integrity of the voting process is something that benefits everyone, partisan politics do not," the spokeswoman, Megan Mitchell, said.

For Democrats this year, no political issue stands out more prominently than their ability to motivate voters to turn out at the polls in November. But traditionally weak midterm turnout by Democrats coupled with efforts in some states to limit early voting and to enact voter identification requirements have prompted the president and his party to raise alarms and step up their get-out-the-vote efforts.

"I want to be clear: I am not against reasonable attempts to secure the ballot. We understand that. There has to be rules in place," Obama said. "But I am against requiring an ID that millions of Americans don't have."

Just last year, seven states passed voter restrictions, ranging from reductions in early voting periods to identification requirements, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law. North Carolina alone adopted a photo ID requirement, eliminated registrations on Election Day and reduced the number of early voting days.

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