For the first time, President Barack Obama suggested that mandatory voting laws would be a good way to counteract the influential forces of money in campaigns.
“Other countries have mandatory voting,” Obama said at a Wednesday townhall event in Cleveland. “It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything.”
Obama also suggested “some folks try to keep” a wide array of people from voting, including young people, lower-income families, immigrants, and minorities. He was most likely referring to voter ID efforts that have been underway in various states.
Just 36 percent of eligible Americans voted in the 2014 midterm elections, the lowest voter turnout since World War II. Two days ago, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed a bill that automatically registers people to vote when they get a new driver’s license or state government-issued ID.
UPDATE — 3:08 p.m. ET: For their part, the White House sought to clarify Obama’s remarks at Thursday’s press briefing. “The president was not making a specific policy prescription for the United States,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters, adding the president was speaking “about a variety of ways” to counteract Citizens United.
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