Kamala Harris announces $25m Democratic plan to help combat voter suppression

DNC to promote ‘voter protection’ and ‘targeted voter registration’ in wake of nationwide GOP legislation to undermine ballot access

Alex Woodward
New York
Thursday 08 July 2021 20:05
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Biden condemns ‘immoral’ GOP voter suppression
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The Democratic National Committee will launch a $25m effort to promote voting rights and register more Americans to vote following a nationwide campaign among Republican lawmakers to restrict ballot access.

Vice President Kamala Harris announced the DNC initiative during remarks at Howard University on 8 July, an effort that assembles “the largest voter protection team we’ve ever had to ensure all Americans can vote, and have your votes counted in a fair and transparent process,” she said.

It follows the introduction of nearly 400 bills filed in nearly every state that would make it more difficult to cast a ballot, or propose handing the administration of elections to GOP-dominated state legislatures.

In a statement, DNC chair Jamie Harrison said that “Republicans know that their policies are unpopular – and that the only way for them to hold on to power is to attack the constitutional right to vote, held by the people they swore to serve.”

The vice president, tapped by Joe Biden to lead his administration’s response on voting rights, stressed that the DNC plan is “about all voters – it doesn’t matter to us if you are a Democrat or not.”

“We want to help you vote, and we want to help make sure your vote is counted,” she said.

Last week, the US Supreme Court court upheld two Arizona laws that voting rights advocates argued have disproportionately hurt minority voters in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.

Democratic lawmakers and voting rights advocates urged Congress to revive proposals to expand voting access and restore the Voting Rights Act, now hobbled by two decisions from the nation’s high court within the last decade.

Senate Republicans have already blocked the For The People Act, prompting demands from progressive lawmakers and some Senate Democrats to abolish filibuster rules that prevent critical items on the president’s agenda from passing through Congress.

“In a span of just eight years, the court has now done severe damage to two of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 – a law that took years of struggle and strife to secure,” the president said in a statement on 1 July.

“After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them,” he said.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has also rejected a restoration of the Voting Rights Act, to be named after late congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis, as an “unnecessary” bill, after the landmark 1965 law was gutted by the high court in 2013 and undermined by its latest ruling.

As of 21 June, at least 17 states have enacted at least 28 new laws that restrict access to the ballot, according to the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU Law.

A parallel effort from GOP lawmakers has seen more than 200 bills in 41 states that give themselves more authority over the electoral process, according to the States United Democracy Center.

At least 24 of those bills have been signed into law.

The president has previously said that legislation changing election oversight “borders on being immoral”.

The US Department of Justice is suing Georgia over is recently passed elections law, and its civil right division has pledged to challenge states with similarly restrictive voting laws.

Ms Harris’s announcement follows a special legislation session in Texas, where Republican Governor Greg Abbott is reviving stalled legislation on sweeping voting restrictions that state Democrats successfully blocked.

“You know what’s going on in Texas right now? This is all designed, I believe, to make it harder for you to vote, so you don’t vote,” the vice president said.

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