Hillary Clinton has a new crusade. The Democrats' only name female candidate for president sees "a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other."
In a speech at Texas Southern University, Clinton also charged, "Republicans are systematically and deliberately trying to stop millions of American citizens from voting." She called on "Republicans at all levels of government with all manner of ambition to stop fearmongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they're so scared of letting citizens have their say."
Fearmongering? To listen to Clinton's remarks, you would think that power-drunk authorities are turning away millions of citizens at the voting booth. She even called out GOP presidential hopefuls by name. When Rick Perry was governor of Texas, Clinton charged, he enacted a law "that a federal court said was actually written with the purpose of discriminating against minority voters." It was a law requiring photo IDs, struck down by one federal judge but stayed by two higher courts.
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, quoth Clinton, "cut back early voting and signed legislation that would make it harder for college students to vote." Mostly true, PolitiFact rated the claim, if students "don't have a Wisconsin drivers license, or moved to Wisconsin less than 28 days before an election." That sounds to me like: If students are not residents, Wisconsin doesn't make it easy for them to vote.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Clinton charged, "vetoed legislation to extend early voting." Christie vetoed a 2012 bill to extend early in-person voting, as he believed that absentee voting met the need.
"I don't want to expand it and increase the opportunities for fraud. Maybe that's what Mrs. Clinton wants to do. I don't know," Christie fired back on CBS' "Face the Nation." Christie added that if Clinton "took some questions some places and learned some things, maybe she wouldn't make such ridiculous statements."
Republican National Committee spokesman Orlando Watson told The New York Times it was odd Clinton faulted GOP states when many accommodate early voting and "her Democrat-led home state of New York does not allowing early voting."
Now, I happen to agree with Clinton that reports of voter fraud in America are greatly exaggerated. But as I ponder her suggested nationwide model that includes a minimum of 20 days of early voting, I have to ask: Is early voting really a great thing?
The earlier citizens vote the likelier they are to change their minds before Election Day.
Clinton also whacked former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush for "a deeply flawed purge" of voters before the 2000 presidential election. She then argued, "We should do everything we can to make it easier for every citizen to vote." OK, but making it easy doesn't mean more people will vote. Blue California has easy registration, handy voting by mail and early in-person voting — yet a sorry 42 percent of registered voters participated in last November's election, 25 percent in the June primary. The truly "phantom epidemic" is voter suppression.