“I Thought We Settled This 50 Years Ago”: Obama Discusses Voting Rights At National Action Network Conference

April 11, 2014  |  

President Obama shut down New York City (literally) to make a brief appearance today at the National Action Network’s annual conference, where he spoke to a crowd that included press, government officials (we spotted Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY), and esteemed guests (we also spotted Martin Luther King III) about the need for vigilance in the fight for voting rights. Moreover, Obama expressed his disbelief over the fact that we’re even having this discussion in 2014. Truth!

“We should not be having an argument over this,” the President said at one point. He set his sights squarely on the Republican party, which has taken up a fight in many states to make it harder to vote. The President brushed aside the assertion that these laws are meant to tackle voter fraud with statistics — 40 voters out of 197 million have been indicted for fraud. But among the rules that are being passed is a mandate for some to present a passport to register to vote.

“Just because you don’t have the money to travel abroad doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to vote at home,” the President said. He later added, “The real voter fraud is people who try to deny us our rights with bogus arguments.”

But more than that, he called on everyone to take responsibility for getting to the polling place. The problem, he said, is “people giving up the right to vote.”

Patience is also required if change will come once and for all.

“Change doesn’t happen overnight, but it happens as long as we don’t give our power away,” the President remarked.

Obama made his way to New York just hours after appearing at the White House with outgoing Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and his new choice, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. Obama opened his speech by referencing the success of the healthcare law — more than seven million enrolled — and again taking a swipe at Republicans.

“We have states who, just out of political spite, won’t let people get health insurance,” he said.

A quick clip about the event after the jump.

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