Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley will call for a constitutional amendment to protect voting rights in response to state laws he said are meant to suppress the vote.
“Last year, Republican state legislators in 29 states introduced more than 80 restrictive bills to require a photo ID, make voter registration harder, or reduce early voting,” O’Malley, a former Maryland governor, said in an email to CNN. “We know why they’re doing this: because Americans without a photo ID are disproportionately low-income, disabled, minority — and Democratic.”
O’Malley will announce his support for the amendment “to protect every citizen’s right to vote” in Columbia, South Carolina Tuesday, marking the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act at the 20/20 Leaders of America meeting.
South Carolina is one of the early primary states.
Hillary Clinton, who is leading O’Malley handedly in Democratic primary polls, called for automatic voter registration at an event in Texas earlier this month.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told TheBlaze that such an amendment is consistent with President Barack Obama’s values.
“I haven’t seen his specific proposal but certainly a constitutional amendment along those lines is something that would be consistent with the values and priorities the president himself has discussed quite powerfully in the speech that he delivered in Selma, Alabama earlier this year,” Earnest said. “Our efforts however have not been focused on a constitutional amendment but actually on getting Congress to walk the walk when it comes to their expressions of support for the value and liberty of individual Americans, and that is to pass and renew the Voting Rights Act.”
O’Malley has also sought to reach out to black voters after he responded to “Black Lives Matter” protesters by saying, “all lives matter.” He later apologized when he was criticized by the movement.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that aspects of the 1965 Voting Rights Act are no longer constitutional, meaning certain states did not have to seek federal permission before enacting voter integrity laws. North Carolina, Texas, Wisconsin, Florida and other states have enacted voter ID laws to combat potential voter fraud.
This post was updated to include a comment from White House press secretary Josh Earnest.