Gillibrand sees some ‘common ground’ with Eric Cantor on voting reforms

Gillibrand, and others, at Brooklyn Borough Hall. (Reid Pillifant)
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As part of her annual five-borough tour this week, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand made three different stops, on three different days, in three different boroughs, to call on Congress to restore the protections in the Voting Rights Act that were recently vacated by the Supreme Court.

"There's an urgency on this," she said, at a press conference at Brooklyn's borough hall yesterday, where she was joined by Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Yvette Clarke, along with some state and local officials.

Gillibrand marched in Selma earlier this year to highlight voting issues, even before the Court's decision, and she's currently working on a bill with Rep. John Lewis, the longtime civil rights leader. 

The prospects for passing such a bill would seem to be bleak, given the Republican resistance in the House, but Gillibrand suggested she might get some help from an unlikely ally.

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"I talked to Eric Cantor at length about this issue," she told me, when I asked if she had lined up any Republican support. "And one of the things that's in Congressman Lewis' and my bill is same-day voter registration and registering online, and early voting. And those are things that appealed to Congressman Cantor on the basis of eliminating fraud.

"Now voter fraud is, I believe, less than one percent. That's less-than-one-percent he cares deeply about—so!—this might be the common ground that we [can use to advance] two provisions of that bill that I look forward to passing."

Gillibrand also did some national media while she was in New York City, mostly about her efforts to reform how the military handles sexual assault cases.

Last night, she sat for an interview on "The Daily Show" that turned unexpectedly tough, when host John Oliver started asking questions about her campaign contributions from Wall Street banks.

This afternoon, after she met with Arianna Huffington at the Huffington Post headquarters, the site's video channel pulled her in for a live interview that stuck a little closer to the script, until the very end.

"I saw you on the 'Daily Show' last night," said Josh Zepps, the HuffPost Live host, as he was wrapping it up. "John was harsh."

"He was tough," she said.

"Do you miss Jon Stewart?" Zepps asked of the usual host, who has previously expressed his admiration for Gillibrand.

"I do, I do," she said, adding, "Listen, John Oliver is super smart, and he covered the sexual assault issue extremely well. And his wife has served in the military, and God bless her for her service. So I was really grateful to be on the show, and I enjoyed it."