Democratic Rep. John Lewis, a civil rights movement leader, bluntly accused Republicans on Thursday of trying to "suppress the vote" of those who support President Barack Obama. In a passionate speech to the Democratic National Convention, Lewis compared that effort to "unjust laws and customs" in the past that were designed to make African-Americans second-class citizens.
"In 2008, we showed the world the true promise of America when we elected President Barack Obama," Lewis declared. "Brothers and sisters, do you want to go back? Or do you want to keep America moving forward? My dear friends, your vote is precious, almost sacred.
"Today it is unbelievable that there are Republican officials still trying to stop some people from voting," he thundered. "They are changing the rules, cutting polling hours and imposing requirements intended to suppress the vote."
Republicans who champion measures like requirements that voters show picture ID before they can cast their ballots say that such laws are necessary to curb voter fraud. And they say it is easy to obtain government-issued picture ID. But studies show that voter fraud is rare and that these kinds of requirements could disproportionately affect poor, elderly and African-American voters in November."The Republican leader in the Pennsylvania House even bragged that his state's new voter ID law is 'gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state.' That's not right. That's not fair. That's not just," said Lewis.
The Georgia congressman said Texas, Ohio, Florida, Wisconsin, Arizona, Georgia and South Carolina had seen similar campaigns and warned: "I've seen this before. I've lived this before."
"Too many people struggled, suffered and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote," he said.