By ALISEN REDMOND
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Speakers at the Rural Council discussed rural economies, infrastructure and voting rights at the Democratic National Convention Thursday.
Katherine Archuleta, National Political Director for Obama For America, made an appeal for the campaign involvement of rural Americans. She requested continuing involvement in canvassing, phone banking and political conversations.
“I know that political scientists are really brain smart, [. . . ] but that adds up to a hill of beans because none for that matters without you,” Archuleta said. “You are the artistry of politics.”
Archuleta said the campaign needs rural Americans to discuss issues affecting them like jobs, the economy, education, health care and veterans’ affairs because because votes are “personal.”
Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota discussed issues rural agricultural economies face like droughts and a lack of broadband, transportation and electrical infrastructure.
“Kids who grow up here should be able to live here,” Klobuchar said.
Klobuchar celebrated rural contributions to the U.S. like food, biofuels and wind farms and the creation of a coalition to pass the farm bill.
“I do not want someone in the White House who abandons us,” Klobuchar said.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the rural U.S. the “forgotten America,” but said it was not forgotten by Obama.
“Rural America is back in large part because of Obama,” Salazar said.
Democratic National Committee Director of Voter Protection Will Crossley discussed the ways in which rural voters, especially rural voters of color, are disproportionately affected by voter identification laws. Crossley said voter identification laws make it harder for citizens to vote, rather than addressing voter fraud.
Crossley told the story of a Tennessee resident who was denied a voter identification card after displaying five forms of identification. Dorothy Cooper, 97, was told she could not get her voter identification card without her marriage certificate since Cooper, being her married name, was not the last name listed on her birth certificate.
“We are going to move forward on the issue of voting rights,” Crossley said. “We are going to make sure that every single person who needs to access a ballot box can do so. We are going to make sure that we protect every single voter and every single vote. Not only will we make sure that they can access a polling place, we will make sure that their votes actually get counted.”
“If we do that,” Crossley said, “I believe that we can not only protect the most fundamental right that we have in a democracy, but we can win this election and we can protect the right to vote for many, many years to come.”