Democratic platform committee urged to protect voting rights

AP News
|
Posted: Jun 18, 2016 3:57 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — Rank-and-file activists urged Democratic leaders on Saturday to ensure that the party platform protects voter rights, advocates equality for women and recommends reducing the role of money on politics.

The final day of the Democratic National Convention Committee's forum in Phoenix centered on how to attract supporters and appeal to their interests. There were no public hints of tensions between backers of Hillary Clinton, the presumptive presidential nominee, and rival Bernie Sanders, whose campaign energized progressives.

The hearings were the second of four rounds of meetings, with additional ones planned for St. Louis in late June and Orlando, Florida, in early July, before the convention in late July in Philadelphia.

The first day of the Phoenix hearings focused on environmental and health care policies. Activists called for a tax on carbon emissions to curb climate change and for an end to the practice of fracking in natural gas production.

About 50 people attended Saturday, and they urged committee members to oppose laws that require voters to present IDs when casting ballots and work toward overturning a U.S. Supreme Court's decision that ushered in unlimited corporate spending in elections.

Judith Browne Dianis, executive director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights group, said photo ID laws are barriers for many Latinos and African-Americans to vote. She urged the committee to include in the platform a restoration of voting rights for felons.

"Whole neighborhoods are stripped of political voices," she said.

The Rev. William Barber, president of the NAACP's North Carolina chapter, said voting rights can't be seen as unconnected to the everyday priorities and challenges in people's lives. "You can't be concerned about, for instance, economic sustainability and living wages and then not say anything about voter suppression," he said.

Actress Patricia Arquette urged support for constitutional amendment guaranteeing equal rights for women. She cited pay disparities between men and women and what she described as the government's inability to respond adequately to rape victims and come to the aid of abused women.

"This nation has turned a blind eye to gender bias," Arquette said.