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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Garland said the DOJ would new guidance on early voting, mail-in voting, and the upcoming redistricting process.
- 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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