4 Details From Merrick Garland’s Voting Rights Announcement

Attorney General Merrick Garland (Photo by Andrew Harnik / POOL / AFP)

It’s been rough on the voting rights front these last few months, but on Friday, a little sun broke through the clouds.

Attorney General Merrick Garland made an important speech outlining some actions the the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice would be taking to combat the attack on voting rights. He specifically mentioned the 14 states that have passed laws that make it harder to vote. He even referenced the SCOTUS decision back in 2013 that invalidated a portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act that opened to the door to a renewed rush of discriminatory actions.

  1. DOJ’s Civil Rights Division is tasked with enforcing federal voting rights laws. To that end, Garland announced that he was doubling the number of voter enfranchisement lawyers in the next 30 days to scrutinize recent laws, particularly to see if they discriminate against Black and other voters of color.
  2. He said the department would also examine the reviews of the 2020 election results happening in a variety of states. (Here’s looking at you, Arizona.)
  3. Garland said the DOJ would new guidance on early voting, mail-in voting, and the upcoming redistricting process.
  4. He also said that DOJ would combat disinformation campaigns that seek to deter people from voting.

Now I’m thrilled that he made this announcement and will do more to push back on voter disenfranchisement, but the DOJ can only do so much. To really get to the root of the problem, we need new federal laws, like the For The People Act. That would give the DOJ much more leverage over the states to do right by every eligible voter.

Garland said, “There are many things open to debate in America, but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them. The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights ultimately flow.”

I couldn’t agree more.

If you’d like to watch the full 20 minute speech, you can see it here:

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4 replies

  1. It’s a start, but it isn’t enough. Congress needs to pass laws that no one can interfere with federal elections. They must own all the conditions by which federal elections take place, leaving the individual states with no I fluency at all over federal elections.
    In truth, they need to have jurisdiction over state elections also, something that says if you do not run fair elections you lose all federal funding. Period.
    The Republicans have it easy right now. They have run roughshod over elections for too long. They need to be taught they cannot control who votes, how they vote, and who they vote for.
    America only pretends to be a democracy. The difference between places like Russia, North Korea, and Brazil is merely a matter of degree. You are a laughing stock for the rest of the world, with your mighty words for others, but you cannot keep your own house in order. Now is the time to change that. Right now! You may never get another chance.

    • Exactly right Rawgod. The DoJ can only do so much.

    • I don’t disagree that the window is closing on our democracy. However, our Constitution clearly gives states broad discretion over running elections. The balance between federal standards and local control is the central challenge to potential laws such as the For The People Act.

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