Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton waded into the battle over voting rights on Monday in the first of a series of speeches in which she says she plans to address some of the most pressing issues in Washington. Mrs. Clinton, in remarks delivered at the American Bar Associationconference here, condemned the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Voting Rights Act, which has paved the way for states to pass laws that would require voters to present government-issued photo identification at the polls. Mrs. Clinton, like many Democrats and voting rights groups, argued that the court’s ruling would limit voters’ participation, particularly among minorities, the poor and younger voters who disproportionately cast their ballots for Democrats. Texas, Mississippi and Alabama all announced that they would move ahead with strict voter identification requirements, and on Monday, Gov. Pat McCrory of North Carolina signed a similar measure.
“Anyone who says racial discrimination is no longer a problem in American elections must not be paying attention,” Mrs. Clinton told the lawyers gathered at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. She urged them to fight voter identification laws in their communities, but she also pleaded with the members of a “gridlocked Congress” to quickly enact legislation that would make it easier to vote.
“Our government cannot fully represent the people unless it has been fairly elected by them,” Mrs. Clinton said.
Although she has largely avoided politics since leaving the State Department in February — devoting her time to delivering paid speeches to trade groups and finishing a memoir about her time as the country’s top diplomat — she said Monday that voting rights would be the first of several major issues, including transparency in government and the global impact of the United States’ foreign policy, that she plans to address in the coming weeks.