US Attorney General Vows to Combat Voting Curb Efforts | Voice of america


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WASHINGTON – US Attorney General Merrick Garland warned Friday that the Justice Department would vigorously oppose government efforts to introduce new voting restrictions for many Americans, especially blacks and other minorities.

“We are reviewing new laws aimed at restricting access and if we find violations we will not hesitate to act,” Garland said in a speech to the Justice Department in which he announced that his agency would be increasing the number of staff Enforcement of voting rights will double the next 30 days.

“We are also reviewing current laws and practices to see if they discriminate against black voters and other colored voters,” Garland said, adding that research showing that non-white voters wait “significantly longer” than their white counterparts, of particular importance are their ballot papers.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks on June 11, 2021 at the Justice Department in Washington on the right to vote.

Garland has blown recent Republican audits of re-counted and certified votes cast in the November 2020 election, stating that they jeopardize the integrity of the voting process and undermine public confidence in the election.

The Justice Department recently sent a letter to a senior Republican lawmaker in Arizona expressing concerns about the legality of a post-election review in the state’s largest district, Garland said. In response, Republicans put campaign campaigns on hold as part of the review.

The attorney general also expressed concern about a “dramatic increase in violent threats” against election administrators and workers and promised that the Justice Department would investigate and prosecute violations of federal law.

Republican electoral officials and members of their families in Georgia, for example, were targeted with threatening messages from supporters of former President Donald Trump months after the loss of state and Trump’s election.

“Such threats undermine our electoral process and violate a variety of federal laws,” Garland said.

Garland’s speech signals the degree to which the Justice Department under President Joe Biden increased the importance of civil rights and suffrage after years of Trump denouncing the electoral system as fraudulent and insisting that the only way he could lose the election was if he were betrayed by it.

Garland told lawmakers this week that the department’s budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 included the largest increase in civil rights effort funding ever: $ 177.2 million from spending levels in 2021, according to the DOJ.

The speech came as Republican lawmakers across the country tabled hundreds of bills this year that critics say will make it harder for many voters to vote – especially minority voters and the elderly – and the prospect of Democrats gaining control of the House retain, negatively affect and Senate in 2022.

Many of these provisions – which aim to limit postal voting, early voting, and other innovations that led to record turnouts during the coronavirus pandemic – were pushed by Republican lawmakers reiterating Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that the 2020 presidential election would pass widespread fraud was stolen.

By late May, lawmakers had passed at least 389 restrictive bills in 48 states during the 2021 legislature, with 14 states passing 22 new laws that year, according to the left-wing Brennan Center for Justice at New York University.

Activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Jan. 10, 2018.

Activists gather outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, Jan. 10, 2018.

With 61 bills passing through state legislatures, the Brennan Center warned last month that the US was “well on track to surpass its most recent period of significant voter suppression – 2011”.

Republicans have defended the new laws as necessary to make elections safer and more transparent. Hans von Spakovsky, Senior Legal Fellow at the Conservative Heritage Foundation, said the recent laws that Garland criticized are aimed at “fixing the flaws in our electoral system.”

“They are non-discriminatory and, contrary to his misrepresentations, protect the fairness and integrity of the electoral process for all voters,” Spakovsky said in an email.

Democrats see the measures as a barely veiled effort to suppress minority voting rights, which may cost them votes in the 2022 midterm elections. And they have redoubled their efforts in the past few weeks to pass two voting bills in Congress.

The first is a major reform bill known as the For the People Act. The comprehensive package calls for a number of reforms, including expanded voting rights, the creation of independent redistribution commissions, publicly funded elections and new regulations for federal officials.

The second bill, the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, restores a key provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which greatly expands the right to vote and is widely hailed as a monumental civil rights law.

FILE - This January 3, 2019 file photo shows Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., During a swearing-in ceremony for members of the 116th Congress' Congressional Black Caucus in Washington.

FILE – This January 3, 2019 file photo shows Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., During a swearing-in ceremony for members of the 116th Congress’ Congressional Black Caucus in Washington.

This provision required states that have historically discriminated against African Americans to obtain prior approval from the Department of Justice or the federal court in Washington before changing their electoral process. But the Supreme Court overturned the provision in 2013, resulting in a “dramatic increase in legislative effort,” what Garland called, making it difficult for millions of Americans to vote.

Garland, a former federal judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court was blocked by Senate Republicans in 2016, said the 2013 Supreme Court ruling removed “the department’s most effective tool to protect voting rights in the last half century.”

He urged Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act and said it would give the department the tools it needs to enforce the voting rights laws.

The bill, named after Rep. John Lewis, the late civil rights icon, would set new criteria to determine which states must get Justice Department approval before changing their electoral laws.

But legislation, like the For the People Act, remains stalled in the evenly divided Senate, with only one Republican supporting the measure so far. To pass the bill, it would take the support of at least 10 Republicans to finish a filibuster.

Last week, on the 100th anniversary of a racial massacre in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Biden urged Congress to pass the voting rights and said the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act would provide “new legal tools to combat the new assault on the rights.” vote.”

But this week Senate Republican chairman Mitch McConnell spoke out against the John Lewis bill, all but dashed hopes for an immediate pass.

“The voting rights law is not at risk. It is already against the law to discriminate on grounds of race when voting, so I think it is unnecessary, “McConnell said Tuesday.

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