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MSNBC "The Rachel Maddow Show" - Transcript

Interview

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Joining us tonight for "The Interview" is Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She is nominated by the president to lead the Democratic National Committee.

Congresswoman Wasserman Schultz--congratulations, first of all.

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ (D), FLORIDA: Thank you. Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Is making it harder to register to vote, which many Republican-controlled states are pursuing right now--is that a partisan tactic?

SCHULTZ: Well, I think it"s sending a very strong signal that Republicans don"t think they can win elections in a fair fight. So, they need to go systematically state-by-state rigging it so that it makes it much more difficult for all voters, regardless of political party affiliation or philosophical approach can get to the polls.

I mean, just to give you an example of a bill that"s going through the legislative--the legislative session right now in Florida. I mean, this is particularly offensive to women voters, there"s actually a provision in a bill that"s been introduced and pushed by the House speaker in Florida that says that a newly married woman cannot actually vote without bringing her marriage certificate to a polling place, and at that point, she can only vote a provisional ballot if her voter registration hasn"t officially been changed to her newly married name.

I mean, those are the kind of outrageous tactics, the intimidation--and the thing that has been much more prevalent, Rachel, voter fraud has been proven time again in the last few years not to be rampant. What is rampant is the intimidation tactics that have been used by Republican supervisors of elections, Republicans secretaries of state, and that the policies used across the country by Republicans overseeing elections has really been outrageous in terms of getting in the way of voters who simply want to go to the polls.

MADDOW: We"re looking at an extreme version of this in Kansas--

Kansas making it essentially impossible to register to vote unless you have your birth certificate or passport with you. Given the proportion of Americans with passports that we know of, and I don"t know how many people where their birth certificate is, it"s hard to imagine many new voters will be registered in Kansas.

But it"s not just Kansas. We"re seeing this in a lot of states. The Kansas secretary of state is an activist Republican secretary of state. He says he wants this to be model legislation across the country.

I feel like the defense on this has, in many cases, been left to civil rights groups who worry about the disproportionate impact of these sorts of things on minority voters, say, or elderly voters or the poor. What about the Democratic Party institutionally sort of taking the other side of this fight?

SCHULTZ: Oh, gosh. No--I mean, institutionally, the Democratic Party has been very aggressive. I mean, I sit on the House Judiciary Committee, as you know, Rachel, and, you know, particularly when President Bush was still in office, and there was hearing after hearing with the--with the Republican Department of Justice employees coming before us and literally maintaining that voter fraud was rampant, we called them out under the leadership of my colleague, Jerry Nadler, who"s been the chairman of that subcommittee, and, you know, really pushed back hard on them. Democratic legislators across the country have pushed back hard and have tried to flush out that voter intimidation practices by Republican elected officials are much more prevalent than the supposed voter fraud that they really haven"t been able to turn up just about anywhere in the country.

And, you know, what"s more outrageous about this whole effort by Republicans to get in the way of Americans who just want to go and cast their vote is look at what"s going on in the Middle East and North Africa right now. You have literally, you know, hundreds of thousands of people who are risking their lives and dying to be able to have the franchise, to be able to actually vote and choose their leaders.

And here we are, we have people who pull the levers of power in the Republican Party who are trying to do the opposite and disenfranchise Americans because they don"t like the outcome of an election in a fair fight.

MADDOW: In the last election cycle, if you look at the top 10 outside donors to campaigns--of the top 10, seven of them donated to causes on candidates on the right. Those were all corporate donors, some Republican organized groups like Karl Rove"s outfit, Chamber of Commerce, they all gave to the right. The only ones that gave to the left of the top 10 in the last election cycle were unions--and public sector unions prominent among them.

Do you see the effort to strip union rights, particularly in the Midwestern states, as an effort to sort of cut the supply lines from Democrats so that they can"t financially compete in the next election cycle?

SCHULTZ: Absolutely. I mean, I"ll use my state as another perfect example. We have collective bargaining in Florida"s Constitution. So, the Republican legislature can"t go after that right. So, instead they"ve got a bill that they"re pursuing that would prohibit public employees from being able to use a union due checkoff that they voluntarily decide to contribute to their union to use for political activity.

And that"s absolutely targeted at making sure that you can neuter unions and prevent them from being able to get involved in their brand of activism and make sure that they can advocate on behalf of the employees that they were elected to represent.

I mean, the intimidation, voter intimidation has been the M.O. of the Republican Party, unfortunately, for many years now. They don"t like the outcome of elections when everyone from every walk of life gets to actually go to the polls and cast their vote. They certainly don"t like when we have record turnout of young people, record turnout of first-time voters. They don"t like the outcome of those elections.

So, instead, their goal now is to get in the way of those folks being able to cast their vote. And, you know, hopefully, if they can rig the election with the right makeup of voters that they prefer, then their candidates will be successful.

MADDOW: Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz--if all goes as expected, she will be the next chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee. Again, congratulations, Congresswoman. Thanks for your time tonight.
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SCHULTZ: Thank you. Thanks, Rachel.

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