Barack Obama

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France: ‘Oui on peut!’ French voters want Obama to run for president | France 24

Posters of Barack Obama have popped up around Paris in what started as a joke by four friends calling for the former US president to run for the Élysée Palace. The organisers say they began plastering Obama posters around Paris because they were disenchanted with the homegrown candidates in France’s forthcoming presidential election. While the posters read “Oui on peut”, the French translation of Obama’s “Yes we can” slogan, the US president cannot run in France’s presidential election as a foreigner. And yet more than 42,000 people have already signed an online petition linked to the poster campaign, calling for the 44th US president to become the 25th president of the French Republic.

Full Article: ‘Oui on peut!’ French voters want Obama to run for president - France 24.

France: Thousands Sign Petition to Put Obama on French Presidential Ballot | VoA News

Hurrying home from work, Noellie Benison paused to take in the grinning poster of the former U.S. president, flanking a busy meridian in northern Paris. “Obama 2017,” she read out. Below: the French translation of his famous tagline, “Oui, on peut” — “Yes we can.” “If Obama runs, I’ll vote for him, that’s for sure,” said 55-year-old Benison, who is planning to cast a blank ballot in this spring’s presidential vote. “We’ve lost our confidence,” she added, dismissing the current crop of candidates. “They’re all the same.” What started as a joke over beers by a quartet of Parisians in their 30s has made international news in less than a week. Today, Obama2017.fr – an online petition to put Barack Obama on the French ballot, has received 50,000 signatures, its organizers say.

Full Article: Thousands Sign Petition to Put Obama on French Presidential Ballot.

Illinois: President calls for auto-voter registration | WSIL

Proposed legislation in the Illinois Senate got attention from President Barack Obama on Wednesday when he addressed the Illinois General Assembly. “Senator Manar and Representative Gable have bills that would automatically register every eligible citizen to vote when they apply for a driver’s license, and that would protect the fundamental right of everybody,” Obama said. State Sen. Andy Manar, D-Bunker Hill, has legislation to register people to vote when they get their driver’s license or a renewal. People can choose to opt out if they do not want to be registered. And people who cannot legally vote are exempt from the process.

Full Article: President calls for auto-voter registration - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois.

National: Presidential Proclamation on National Voter Registration Day | whitehouse.gov

The right to vote is a cornerstone of what it means to be a free people: It represents the bedrock tenets of equality and civic participation upon which our Nation was founded. Throughout American history, courageous patriots of every background and creed have fought to extend this right to all and to bring our country closer to its highest ideals. Voting is vital to a principle at the core of our democracy — that men and women of free will have the capacity to shape their own destinies. On National Voter Registration Day, we recommit to upholding this belief by encouraging all eligible Americans to register to vote and exercise this essential right. 

Full Article: Presidential Proclamation on National Voter Registration Day | whitehouse.gov.

National: Barack Obama calls on Congress to restore Voting Rights Act | The Guardian

Barack Obama has once again called on Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and make it easier for Americans to vote, in a letter to the New York Times Magazine. The letter comes more than a week after he marked the 50th anniversary of the 1965 act by asking Congress to pass new, broader legislation to address recent efforts to impede Americans’ voting rights. “I am where I am today only because men and women like Rosanell Eaton refused to accept anything less than a full measure of equality. Their efforts made our country a better place,” Obama wrote in Wednesday’s letter. “It is now up to us to continue those efforts. Congress must restore the Voting Rights Act. Our state leaders and legislatures must make it easier – not harder – for more Americans to have their voices heard. Above all, we must exercise our right as citizens to vote, for the truth is that too often we disenfranchise ourselves.”

Full Article: Barack Obama calls on Congress to restore Voting Rights Act | US news | The Guardian.

National: On 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act, Obama renews call for new legislation | The Washington Post

President Obama, on the 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act, renewed a call for new, broader legislation and urged people to exercise their hard-won voting rights instead of staying home on election days. Obama said that in the half-century since President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act it has become impossible to hear anyone defend the idea of discrimination against certain voters. “That’s huge progress,” he said, “a normative shift in how we think about our democracy.” But he said that initiatives in state legislatures to require drivers licenses and other forms of photo identification and to make it harder to vote early were having the same discriminating effect. He said no matter how reasonable such rules may sound, they all discriminated against the poor, elderly and working-class voters who often work odd shifts or travel by bus or are single parents. Voting rights activists say that 15 states with 162 electoral votes will have new voting restrictions in 2016.

Full Article: On 50th anniversary of Voting Rights Act, Obama renews call for new legislation - The Washington Post.

National: Obama Urges Restoring Voting Rights Provisions | The New York Times

President Obama used the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act on Thursday to urge Congress to restore key elements of the law, arguing that court decisions and state statutes that discourage “certain kinds of folks” from voting are threatening to erode the fundamental promise of the civil rights-era bulwark. A half-century after the measure outlawed practices that barred blacks or other minorities from voting, Mr. Obama said the nation had “conceptually” rejected discrimination in balloting, a mark of “huge progress.” But, he said, “In practice, we’ve still got problems,” including laws requiring that voters show identification before casting ballots and limiting early voting, which Mr. Obama said may appear neutral, but actually “have a disproportional effect on certain kinds of folks voting.”

Full Article: Obama Urges Restoring Voting Rights Provisions - The New York Times.

National: Holder and Obama mark Selma events with call for voting rights protections | The Guardian

Thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the historic Brown Chapel AME Church in Selma, Alabama on Sunday to reprise one of the most powerful acts of the civil rights era. But memorializing history was not the only order of the day, attorney general Eric Holder said in a speech inside the church. In a message that appeared to be coordinated with a pre-recorded television interview by President Barack Obama, Holder attacked a 2013 supreme court decision that invalidated part of the Voting Rights Act as he called for a new national push for protections for minority voters. This year’s march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Holder said, was a symbolic call to finish the work of the original demonstration of 7 March 1965, “Bloody Sunday”, which set the stage for the passage of the Voting Rights Act. Police estimated the crowd crossing the bridge on Sunday at 15-20,000.

Full Article: Holder and Obama mark Selma events with call for voting rights protections | US news | The Guardian.

National: Obama marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ anniversary: ‘Our march is not yet finished’ | Los Angeles Times

Standing before the landmark Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate a historic moment in the civil rights movement, President Obama on Saturday called upon Americans to acknowledge progress the nation has made in easing racial tensions but remain vigilant for the hard work still ahead. “Fifty years from ‘Bloody Sunday,’ our march is not yet finished,” Obama told a crowd of several hundred black and white faces gathered on the 50th anniversary of the Selma march, when Alabama police brutally beat black protesters demanding access to the ballot. “But we are getting closer,” Obama said. “Our job’s easier because somebody already got us through that first mile. Somebody already got us over that bridge.”

Full Article: Obama marks 'Bloody Sunday' anniversary: 'Our march is not yet finished' - LA Times.

National: Obama, at Selma Memorial, Says, ‘We Know the March Is Not Yet Over’ | New York Times

As a new generation struggles over race and power in America, President Obama and a host of political figures from both parties came here on Saturday, to the site of one of the most searing days of the civil rights era, to reflect on how far the country has come and how far it still has to go. Fifty years after peaceful protesters trying to cross a bridge were beaten by police officers with billy clubs, shocking the nation and leading to passage of the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965, the nation’s first African-American president led a bipartisan, biracial testimonial to the pioneers whose courage helped pave the way for his own election to the highest office of the land. But coming just days after Mr. Obama’s Justice Department excoriated the police department of Ferguson, Mo., as a hotbed of racist oppression, even as it cleared a white officer in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, the anniversary seemed more than a commemoration of long-ago events on a black-and-white newsreel. Instead, it provided a moment to measure the country’s far narrower, and yet stubbornly persistent, divide in black-and-white reality.

Full Article: Obama, at Selma Memorial, Says, ‘We Know the March Is Not Yet Over’ - NYTimes.com.

National: Obama Calls Out America’s Dismal Voter Turnout: ‘Why Are You Staying Home?’ | Huffington Post

President Barack Obama urged Americans frustrated with the lack of progress on immigration reform to voice their discontent at the ballot box, lamenting the dismal turnout in last November’s midterm elections. Speaking Wednesday during a town hall in Miami, Florida, hosted by MSNBC and Telemundo’s José Díaz-Balart, Obama said the immigration system won’t truly change until voters elect lawmakers who will press for reform. “Ultimately, we have to change the law,” Obama said. “And the way that happens is, by the way, by voting”

Full Article: Obama Calls Out America's Dismal Voter Turnout: 'Why Are You Staying Home?'.

Editorials: Why Obama Should Pardon former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman | Jeffrey Toobin/The New Yorker

Since the midterm elections, President Barack Obama has been acting as if he feels liberated from parochial political concerns. After taking action on immigration, Cuba, and climate change, he should take on another risky, if less well-known, challenge by commuting the prison sentence of Don Siegelman, the former governor of Alabama. Siegelman, a Democrat, served a single term in office, from 1999 to 2003, in the last days before Alabama turned into an overwhelmingly Republican state. He’s spent the subsequent decade dealing with the fallout from the case that landed him in prison—a case that, at its core, is about a single campaign contribution. Siegelman ran for office on a promise to create a state lottery to fund education in Alabama. The issue went to a ballot question, and Richard Scrushy, a prominent health-care executive, donated five hundred thousand dollars to support the pro-lottery campaign. (Voters rejected the lottery.) After Scrushy had given the first half of his contribution, Siegelman reappointed him to Alabama’s Certificate of Need Review Board (the CON Board), which regulates health care in the state. Scrushy had served on the CON Board through the administrations of three different governors. The heart of the case against Siegelman came down to a single conversation that he had with Nick Bailey, a close aide of the Governor’s, about a two-hundred-and-fifty-thousand-dollar check from Scrushy for the lottery campaign. As summarized by the appeals court: Bailey testified that after the meeting, Siegelman showed him the check, said that it was from Scrushy and that Scrushy was “halfway there.” Bailey asked “what in the world is he going to want for that?” Siegelman replied, “the CON Board.” Bailey then asked, “I wouldn’t think that would be a problem, would it?” Siegelman responded, “I wouldn’t think so.”

Full Article: Why Obama Should Pardon Don Siegelman - The New Yorker.

District of Columbia: Obama on D.C. statehood: ‘I’m for it’ | The Washington Post

With fewer than a dozen words Monday, President Barack Obama made his most definitive statement to date in favor of District statehood, delighting both loyal supporters and longtime advocates who have questioned his commitment to D.C. voting rights. During a town hall-style event at a public school in Northwest Washington, Obama was asked about his opinion on statehood — something that has been the ultimate but elusive goal of voting-rights activists for four decades. “I’m in D.C., so I’m for it,” Obama said to laughter and applause, according to a White House transcript. “Folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else,” he continued. “They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else. And it’s not as if Washington, D.C., is not big enough compared to other states. There has been a long movement to get D.C. statehood and I’ve been for it for quite some time. The politics of it end up being difficult to get it through Congress, but I think it’s absolutely the right thing to do.”

Full Article: Obama on D.C. statehood: ‘I’m for it’ - The Washington Post.

Texas: Barack Obama pushes voting rights in Texas | Politico

President Barack Obama on Wednesday joined the larger Democratic effort to spotlight voting rights ahead of this year’s midterms, blasting “active efforts to deter people from voting. Apparently it’s fairly active here in Texas,” he told supporters at a Houston fundraiser. “The idea that you’d purposely try to prevent people from voting? Un-American. How is it that we’re putting up with that? We don’t have to.” Attorney General Eric Holder delivered his own address to the group Wednesday in New York, recounting the Justice Department’s efforts on the issue since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act last year.

Full Article: Barack Obama pushes voting rights in Texas - Edward-Isaac Dovere - POLITICO.com.

National: Obama Touts Voting Rights Bill | National Law Journal

President Barack Obama tonight urged Congress to take up patent reform and to restore the Voting Rights Act in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that he said “weakened” the anti-discrimination law. … On the Voting Rights Act, Obama took an indirect swipe at the Supreme Court’s ruling—in Shelby County v. Holder—that voided a provision of the law. The author of the high court’s opinion—Chief Justice John Roberts Jr.—was one of five justices who attended the State of the Union. The ruling struck down the part of the law that determined which jurisdictions were required to submit electoral changes for preclearance from a federal court or the U.S. Department of Justice.

Full Article: Obama Touts Voting Rights Bill, Patent Reform | National Law Journal.

National: Obama sees bipartisan voter access proposal next year | Reuters

President Barack Obama said on Thursday he expects a blue-ribbon panel to soon propose reforms that both parties can back to address concerns over the long waiting times some American voters experienced at the polls in 2012. “Early next year, we’re going to put forward what we know will be a bipartisan effort or a bipartisan proposal to encourage people to vote,” he said in an interview on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.” “You can’t say you take pride in American democracy, American constitutionalism, American exceptionalism, and then you’re doing everything you can to make it harder for people to vote as opposed to easier for people to vote.”

Full Article: Obama sees bipartisan voter access proposal next year - News - AM 590 - WKZO Everything Kalamazoo.

National: Obama’s big voting rights gamble | POLITICO.com

Whatever President Barack Obama says at the March on Washington ceremony on Wednesday, his administration has already sent a loud message of its own: ramping up its push on voting rights by way of a risky strategy — and pledging more tough moves to come. The irony of the historical forces colliding at that moment won’t be lost on anyone. The nation’s first African-American president, standing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial where Martin Luther King Jr. stood 50 years earlier, will speak at a time when many African-Americans and other minorities feel that the Voting Rights Act — one of the proudest accomplishments of the civil rights movement — is being dismantled. The backdrop for the big event is a surge in voter ID laws and other restrictive election measures, and the legal fight the Obama administration has picked with Texas to stop the wave. It’s suing to block the state’s voter ID law from taking effect, a clear signal to other states to think twice before they pass any more restrictions on voting rights.

Full Article: Obama’s big voting rights gamble - David Nather - POLITICO.com.

National: Congressional action on Voting Rights may be a dream deferred for some | CNN

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down a key portion of the landmark Voting Rights Act, activists and those in states with a history of disenfranchisement at the polls are pinning their hopes on congressional action. But those hopes may be long deferred. A member of Congress who shed blood during the long march to civil rights told a Senate committee on Wednesday that he believes the Voting Rights Act “is needed now more than ever.” “The burden cannot be on those citizens whose rights were, or will be, violated. It is the duty of Congress to restore the life and soul to the Voting Rights Act,” said veteran congressman John Lewis. “The day of the Supreme Court decision broke my heart. It made me want to cry,” the Georgia Democrat told the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Full Article: Congressional action on Voting Rights may be a dream deferred for some - CNN.com.

National: Obama tells black lawmakers he’ll help rebuild Voting Rights Act | The Dallas Morning News

President Barack Obama pledged to black lawmakers Tuesday that he will help rebuild the Voting Rights Act after a Supreme Court ruling gutted federal oversight of states with a history of bias. “He’s with us, and he wants to make sure we do something to strengthen voting rights for all Americans,” Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, said at the White House after Obama met with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Black lawmakers said they also discussed how to develop a new formula for deciding which states deserve extra scrutiny. Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court struck down the existing formula, based on decades-old voting data. That freed Texas and eight other states from having to get federal permission for any change to voting laws and procedures. Given the polarization in Congress, it’s unlikely lawmakers will act any time soon.

Full Article: Obama tells black lawmakers he’ll help rebuild Voting Rights Act | Dallasnews.com - News for Dallas, Texas - The Dallas Morning News.

National: Obama election administration commission to hold Miami hearing | POLITICO.com

The commission President Barack Obama is setting up to address problems with election administration plans to hold one of its first meetings in the city that appeared to be ground zero for excessive delays in the 2012 vote: Miami. The panel will convene at the federal courthouse in Miami on Friday, June 28 to hear testimony from “local, county and state election officials,” as well as “comments by interested members of the public,” according to a notice set to be published Wednesday in the Federal Register. In November, some Miami voters spent more than five hours waiting to case their ballots, according to the Miami Herald. Obama promised action on the subject in his election night victory speech.