Hillary Clinton on Thursday blasted Republican leaders for "fear-mongering" about election fraud, pushed for expansion of early voting rights and called for universal, automatic voter registration for every citizen once they turn 18, unless they choose otherwise.

Clinton used a speech at the historically black Texas Southern University to criticize voting restrictions in North Carolina, Texas, Florida and Wisconsin, and urged states to adopt a national standard of no fewer than 20 days of early in-person voting, including opportunities for weekend and evening voting.

"Because what is happening is a sweeping effort to disempower and disenfranchise people of color, poor people and young people from one end of our country to the other since the Supreme Court eviscerated a key provision of the Voting Rights Act in 2013," she said.

Republicans argue that adding verification requirements to voting is necessary to prevent voter fraud, whereas Democrats counter that these restrictions subdue minority and low-income voter turnout. In response to this debate, Democrats have indicated plans for a substantial legal pushback against the new voter ID laws.

"I call on Republicans at all levels of government, with all manner of ambition, to stop fear-mongering about a phantom epidemic of election fraud and start explaining why they are so scared of letting citizens have their say," Clinton said.

During her speech, Clinton called out numerous Republican presidential candidates — including Rick Perry, Scott Walker, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie — for restricting voter registration in their states.

Though the Clinton campaign is not directly involved in the lawsuits, voter ID laws are a crucial issue among minority voters, a group that Clinton will need to capture the presidency.

Clinton, who has been largely avoiding the press, had her team email reporters prior to the event stating that "there will be no opportunities to interview Hillary Clinton, her speech will be her interview."

In response to the speech, the Republican National Committee emailed a statement saying that, "Hillary Clinton's rhetoric is misleading and divisive. In reality, the vast majority of Americans — including minority voters — support common-sense measures to prevent voter fraud. Clinton's shameless attacks ignore the fact her Democrat-led home state of New York does not allow early voting while dozens of Republican-led states do. Her exploitation of this issue only underscores why voters find her dishonest and untrustworthy."


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