Ronan Farrow Daily   |  April 11, 2014

Obama: Voting rights blockading ‘un-American’

Leading up to a speech on voting rights by President Obama on Friday, Ronan Farrow and National Urban League president Marc Morial discuss the continued attempts by the GOP to impose voting rights restrictions across the country.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> bank of america near you.

>>> welcome back. in just a few hours, president obama is going to take the stage at al sharpton 's national action network in new york to decry state measures making it more difficult to vote all around the country. yesterday the president gave an empassioned speech about civil rights in texas and at the private fundraiser on wednesday, he called efforts to prevent people from voting, quote, un-american. so why this push and why right now? to look ahead to the president's speech and wrap up our weeklong call to action on the very subject of civil rights , i go to mark mur yelle.

>> when you see the suppressive voting policies, where do you think this comes from, a genuine fear about fraud or strategic?

>> i think it's being cooked up and an effort to responds to the historic turnout of 2008 and 2012 . and not a single person who supports these measures can point to, quote, the massive fraud or the quote, persistent problems that these pieces of suppressive legislation seek to address. i think it's absolutely strategic. i think that's why people need to say no, no, no and say yes, yes, yes to voting.

>> and is there a political strategic element to president obama raising this issue over and over , trying to rally minority voters to the polls who do vote democratic?

>> i think it's bigger than simply rallying people of color to the polls. i think it's the president standing up to defend the essence of the constitution. i think it's the president standing up saying that a nation, that fights wars in afghanistan and iraq to quote promote democracy, can't retrench a democracy here at home. i think that's what it is.

>> we have been hearing all week from our viewers around the country talking about their struggles getting to the polls. this is a real issue and people are being denied a basic democratic right. this comes from a real place of struggle and people are encouraged by him highlighting this.

>> i think if we look at it, we're now a nation of over 300 million people. and early voting is a great way to encourage more people to vote, but to recognize the fact that we put long lines at polling places in many cities but to give people, senior citizens and work on election day an opportunity to vote, the cut back on early voting , i see it nothing other than a suppression effort.

>> and what do you think president obama will address in this speech specifically coming up in a few hours? do you think he'll talk about early voting ?

>> i think the president will talk more broadly. yesterday was a day for the president to reflect back to lbj and sort of the forces that helped to transform america in the second half of the 20th century . i think today will perhaps be an effort to deal with today's contemporary problems regarding voting, but also to place his presidency and certainly his justice department squarely in the corner of protecting and defending voting and really the expansion of democracy in america .

>> they've certainly done that rhetorically, do you think they'l

>> i think the attorney general taking action against texas and south carolina , i think working diligently on a new, if you will, voting rights act modernization bill, to try to correct the damage to the voting rights act the supreme court did last summer is certainly indicative of the president. i think the attorney general's strong commitment with a bipartisan team of members of congress and the united states senate .

>> that is certainly more than just talk what you're referring to as the department of justice 's suing several states for voter i.d. laws.

>> i think people say -- i would look at it, not quote/unquote just suing, they are enforcing the law, the voting rights act and constitutional prerogatives. in the 20th century , we expanded the right to vote and gave women the right to vote and 18-year-olders a right to vote through constitutional provisions and secured the vote for people of color with the voting rights act . it was a century of expansion. this century unfortunately is being marked by efforts by some to turn back the hands of time. and people out there listen, we've got to resist it, call your secretary of state and members of your legislature and say you do not support it, you want them to protect the vote.

>> thank you so much, marc morial , this is something so important to our country.

>> thank you.

>> it's apt that he made that call. that has been exactly our call to action this week. we have focused on limits to early voting , that disproportionately affect people of color . we asked you to call your secretary of state or governor about early voting . one response came from wisconsin , pat said, send my secretary a state of plea to keep voting hours available to the public. i live in wisconsin where the republicans are trying to tighten the reigns on democracy. the republican governor of wisconsin , scott walker recently signed a law that eliminated early voting on weekends, that's the dynamic so many reported from south carolina and texas where the justice department is suing state officials over restrictive voting i.d. laws. the rest of the 15 states where the aclu says laws have been passed that are suppressing voter measures since 2003 -- 2013 . thank you for weighing in. we'll stay with this story which so profoundly affects all of us as we head to the polls. just