‘It borders on being immoral’: Biden condemns GOP voter suppression ahead of national tour to promote voting rights

Republicans have filed dozens of bills to hand election oversight to GOP-dominated state legislatures

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 24 June 2021 21:47 BST
Biden condemns ‘immoral’ GOP voter suppression
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President Joe Biden plans to travel across the US to promote voting rights in the wake of Republican obstruction of a sweeping measure to expand ballot access.

The president said he will be “making the case to the American people that this isn’t just about [voter ID laws] or being able to give someone water in line – this is about who gets to judge whether your vote gets counted”.

His remarks follow the introduction of dozens of Republican-backed bills in nearly every state that would strip elections administration and oversight from elections officials and hand them to GOP-dominated state legislatures.

Within the first few months of 2021, Republican state lawmakers filed nearly 400 restrictive voting bills in nearly every state, part of a coordinated campaign backed by right-wing interest groups in the wake of 2020 elections and Donald Trump’s persistent lie of a “stolen election” that saw dozens of Republican state lawmakers advance partisan efforts to restrict access to the ballot.

“What these guys are trying to do now ... is say that if we don’t like the way the vote turned out, and we control the state legislature, we’re gonna say the vote didn’t count, and we’re going to recount,” the president said on 24 June. “Who in God’s name, as my mother would say, died and left them boss?”

Mr Biden called a sweeping elections law in Georgia “simply wrong, and in my view, it borders on being immoral”.

On Tuesday, Senate Republicans universally opposed the For The People Act, which aims to standardise voting access at the federal level, eliminate long-standing barriers to voting, end partisan gerrymandering, and allow candidates with smaller platforms to wield more political power.

Before the vote, the White House warned that “democracy is in peril” and that the right to vote “is under assault with an intensity and an aggressiveness we have not seen in a long time”.

Mr Biden called the GOP filibuster “another attack on voting rights that is sadly not unprecedented”.

Senate Republicans have now relied on the chamber’s filibuster rules to block debate on two measures – including the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol riot – prompting progressive lawmakers and some Democratic senators to demand their colleagues abolish the 60-vote rule, or at least allow a debate or discussion about its next steps.

The president has refused to get into the filibuster debate, and activists have demanded that he do more to protect voting rights – which also could be undermined by another Senate blockade on a restoration of the Voting Rights Act and a forthcoming US Supreme Court decision on the landmark law.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki has defended the White House response, which includes dispatching Vice President Kamala Harris to meet with voting rights advocates across the US.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland also has doubled staff in his civil rights division and has pledged to scrutinise new GOP-backed elections laws.

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