Klobuchar stresses voting rights, criminal justice reform in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE: U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said it should be easier for people to vote and vowed to protect voting rights during a stop today before a small group of activists on the city’s north side.

The Minnesota Democrat also discussed criminal justice reform during her meeting with members of Black Leaders Organizing for Communities at their headquarters in the heart of a zip code with one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation.

Earlier in the day, Klobuchar visited Organic Valley Cooperative Dairy Farm in Random Lake. Following her meeting with BLOC, she visited a nearby coffee shop.

Speaking before BLOC, Klobuchar said a number of states are trying to make it harder for people to vote despite the rarity of incidents of voter fraud used to justify such measures.

“It’s become a total political game to keep people out of the voting booth,” Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar called for the reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act, measures making it easier for people to register to vote, the restoration of voting rights for felons released from prison, and automatic voter registration upon people’s 18th birthday.

“We should make it easier for people to vote,” Klobuchar said. “It should be one of the big priorities of our government.”

She also called for enhanced election security, limiting money in politics and requiring disclosure of those sponsoring political ads on social media.

During a Q&A portion, Klobuchar fielded a couple of questions about her support for reauthorizing portions of the 1994 crime bill to boost funding for police.

Klobuchar didn’t directly answer the questions about increased police funding and instead focused more broadly on criminal justice reform.

Klobuchar called for an increased focus on drug courts, treatment and reduced sentences for non-violent offenders.

She also highlighted her proposal to set up a bipartisan clemency board to make recommendations on who should be granted a reprieve.

Klobuchar said during her time as county attorney for Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, her charge was to “convict the guilty and protect the innocent.” She said she fought to have all officer-involved shooting investigated by an outside agency and moved the county to a new suspect identification system for eye-witnesses designed to reduce racial bias.

One questioner said Klobuchar would have the government spend millions to have “more police policing people like me” and asked her what motivated her to speak before a group that opposes the measure.

“What motivates me to be here is we’ve got a guy in the White House who is not helping you,” Klobuchar said.

Klobuchar also addressed other campaign issues such as climate change and economic mobility, while taking a few shots at President Trump for his slights against the African American majority city of Baltimore and people of color in Congress.

Ahead of Klobuchar’s stop, RNC spokeswoman Mandi Merritt knocked the Dem, saying she “once had a carefully crafted façade as a Midwestern moderate, but her agenda would rob hard-working Wisconsinites out of money in their paychecks and jobs across the state.”

During her visit to Sherman Perk Coffee Klobuchar focused on education, climate change, health care and workforce development.

She also highlighted Wisconsin’s role as part of a “blue wall” for 2020 along with Pennsylvania and Michigan, where had two stops ahead of today’s visit.

She said that although other states are ahead in the primary cycle, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan are key to the general election.

“They are where we have to mobilize, and I figure why wait until the general election?” Klobuchar said.

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