|Obama criticizes Republicans for threatening right to vote||
In an unsparing critique of Republicans, U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday accused the GOP of using voting restrictions to keep voters from the polls and of jeopardizing 50 years of expanded ballot box access for millions of black Americans and other minorities.
"The stark, simple truth is this: The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago," Obama said in a fiery speech at civil rights activist and television talk host Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference.
Obama waded into the acrid debate over voting access in an election year where control of the Senate, now in the hands of Democrats, is at stake, as is Obama's already limited ability to push his agenda through Congress.
Republicans say the voting measures guard against voter fraud, but Democrats say they erode the landmark 1965 law that helped pave Obama's path in politics.
"Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote," he said, relating anecdotes of voters turned away because they didn't have the right identification or because they needed a passport or birth certificate to register.
"About 60 percent of Americans don't have a passport," he said. "Just because you can't have the money to travel abroad doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to vote here at home."
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