First Lady Michelle Obama taped this special video message as part of the “I’m First” project, which lifts up the stories of first-generation college students to inspire future generations. Learn more at http://www.imfirst.org/
(CNN) – 102-year-old Desiline Victor is among first lady Michelle Obama‘s guests at the State of the Union Tuesday – and her example is meant to drive home President Barack Obama’s commitment to protecting voting rights made during his inaugural address. In that speech he said, “Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote.”
Victor, a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Haiti, waited in line for three hours to cast an early vote ballot in Florida. According to voting rights advocates who know Victor’s story, when she returned later in the day other people in line urged election officials to get her in to vote. It was her second time filling out a ballot since she became a citizen in 2005.
The president’s power to alter voting practices is limited. Only Congress has the power to create national standards. Voting rights advocates are calling for uniform rules around early voting, voter identification laws and means of registration but this cannot be done by executive action.