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Rep. Keith Ellison: GOP has chance to 'rebrand' with reaction to voting rights ruling

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Rep. Keith Ellison, Minnesota Democrat, said Wednesday that a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court blocking a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act presents an opportunity for congressional Republicans to “rebrand” and be perceived as a more inclusive party.

Mr. Ellison said President Obama has been clear on his position about voting rights, so a written statement in which he said he was “deeply disappointed” with the court’s ruling was appropriate.

“But I would really welcome a statement from the president that’s firmer and clearer and tries to really pull all parties together to come up with a consensus around setting up a new formula,” Mr. Ellison said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “I mean, Senator Leahy is game. He wants to do something; he’s made that clear. And, you know, there’s no doubt that on the Dem side, we’re ready to get to work.”

In a 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said Tuesday the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that mainly Southern states undergo special scrutiny before changing their voting laws is based on a 40-year-old formula that is no longer relevant to changing racial circumstances.

“I am calling on Congress to pass legislation to ensure every American has equal access to the polls,” Mr. Obama said. “My Administration will continue to do everything in its power to ensure a fair and equal voting process.”

As Congress is dealing with hot-button issues such as immigration and, potentially, some sort of legislative reaction to the ruling, Mr. Ellison said it presents Republicans with a chance to “rebrand.”

“This is a chance for them to say: ‘Look, you know, we’re an inclusive party. See us working on immigration and voting rights reform, we’re all in, and try to make a solution work for all people,’” he said. “We can debate tax policy and spending policy, but we’re all here together to make sure all Americans of whatever color can vote.”

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