In an exclusive interview with msnbc’s Rev. Al Sharpton, President Barack Obama seemed to cast aside concerns about voting ID laws, instead focusing on what he perceives to big a far bigger problem that will impact the upcoming midterms — voter turnout.
Obama said the Democrats will continue to challenge many of the laws that prevent residents — primarily minorities, elderly and students — from voting without specific forms of photo ID. However, he added that those controversial laws don’t stop the overwhelming majority of Americans from voting.
“There may be a few people who are impeded,” Obama told Sharpton, host of msnbc’s “PoliticsNation,” during an exclusive interview that aired Tuesday afternoon. “But the bottom line is — if less than half of our folks vote, these laws aren’t preventing the other half from not voting.”
Nonetheless, the fight for voting rights is continuing ahead of the Nov. 4 midterms. Residents in 34 states already began casting their votes. Obama returned home to Chicago on Monday to vote early in his home state’s election. “I voted today in Illinois and it’s a lot easier when you early vote because you don’t have to deal with lines,” he said.
Those in Ohio no longer enjoy quite as much convenience as the president, after judges cut early voting in the state. The Supreme Court also approved Texas’ strict voter ID law on Saturday, a decision that could disenfranchise thousands of voters, and judges ruled in favor of North Carolina’s elimination of same-day voter registration.
Still, voting restrictions are not what lead parties to lose elections, according to Obama. Democrats are in danger of losing the midterms simply because many eligible people don’t complete a ballot, Obama told Sharpton. Less than half of the Democratic population typically turns out at midterm elections, he added. Throughout the exclusive interview, he pressed citizens to visit the website, “IWillVote,” to confirm their voting locations.
With just 14 days before the midterms, Democrats’ control of the Senate remains in jeopardy. He emphasized that Democratic voters need to realize that the midterm elections are vital to the party’s success. Many of the contested states in this election cycle are locations where Obama didn’t win previously. In certain areas, it is difficult for him to be in that state because the GOP will use the statistics to try to fan Republican turnout, he pointed out.
“The truth is that in most of these states and most of these congressional districts, if we have high turnout, we win, and when we have low turnout, we lose,” Obama said in the interview. “It’s as simple as that.” He added that he isn’t bothered by not being invited to the campaign trail in some battleground states, and that it “doesn’t hurt his feelings.”
The only way to change the current issues of lawmakers’ inaction is to elect politicians to Congress who will cooperate with their peers. Obama suggested that the country could focus on issues that can be changed immediately, including lowering the unemployment rate, raising the minimum wage, and focusing on equal pay for women.
“We have a Congress that will not cooperate and says ‘no’ to everything,” he said. “That matters to middle class families and would make a difference.”