Barack Obama's former right-hand man accused Republicans of passing laws to shut out Democrats from voting in the next presidential election. "There's no doubt that Republican legislatures and governors across this country have made an attempt to try to win the elections in 2012 and 2011 by passing laws that are restrictive, that are meant to discourage participation, particularly by key constituencies that have voted Democratic in the past," said David Axelrod, former White House official and current senior advisor to the Obama campaign.
The comments were made in an online Q&A following the premiere of "The Road We Traveled," a 17-minute film directed by David Guggenheim and produced by the Obama campaign. Questions were submitted over Twitter, and the topics ranged from how the president will handle Iran to whether Axelrod ever got in arguments with fellow senior advisor David Plouffe. The final question posed to Axelrod was about the string of laws Republican state legislatures have passed over the past year that will restrict access to the ballot in the name of combating voter fraud.
"The bottom line is we're going to have to fight this in every state," he said, "with every set of rules through organization, through commitment on the part of the campaign but also on individuals to find out exactly what the rules are in their state." Axelrod and fellow Obama staffer Mitch Stewart then touted GottaRegister, a website started by the Democratic National Committee that helps voters register and navigate their local voting laws.
Seven states have passed strict voter ID laws since the 2010 midterm elections, though some of those have been held up after objections from the Department of Justice.
Immediately after taking power, newly elected Republican majorities in state legislatures rushed to combat voter fraud, a constant fear among the conservative base. But research has shown that these laws—and other restrictive voting measures such as repealing same-day registration or cutbacks on early voting—will make it incredibly difficult for certain groups of citizens to cast a ballot: senior citizens, racial minorities, the poor, and the young.
Republicans claim that it is just a coincidence that these groups targeted by the bill happen to vote consistently for Democrats. But Axelrod didn't mince words about Republicans' intentions. "We're going to thwart this cynical attempt to depress voter turnout," he said in the video. "The difference between our party and their party is we'd be comfortable if every single American who was qualified to vote did vote. We think that'd be a great thing for this country."