The US Department of Justice will review and challenge a series of new laws proposed and passed by Republicans that would restrict voting rights in major US states, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of our democracy, the right from which all other rights flow,” Garland said Friday.
The new focus on federal enforcement of voting rights laws by Garland, the top law enforcement official in the Biden administration, comes as Republicans in Georgia, Florida, Arizona and of Arkansas have passed new laws since the 2020 presidential election that critics say would make it harder for people to vote.
Similar bills have been proposed or are advancing in more than a dozen other states, including Texas, which is considering a sweeping election bill that, among other things, would allow judges to overturn election results .
The Justice Department will double the number of attorneys it has assigned to enforce US voting rights laws and “we are reviewing new laws that seek to restrict voter access, and when we see violations, we will not hesitate to act, ”Garland said.
Justice will apply a “scrutiny of post-election audits” like the one currently underway in Arizona, backed by the Republican-controlled state Senate, to ensure they comply with federal laws, Garland warned.
Trump’s false claims are the catalyst for the GOP
Alleging widespread electoral fraud without evidence, former President Donald Trump had filed more than 40 lawsuits in key states in the United States seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s election victory in 2020.
Those lawsuits were dismissed by judges, but Trump’s continued insistence that the election was “rigged” continues to push Republicans across the country to push for more restrictive election laws.
For example, the bill pending in the Texas Legislature would reduce so-called “ballot souls” in black churches, criminalize routine exit-voting activities, and prohibit local officials from sending ballot requests. postal ballot.
“The bill disproportionately affects people of color,” said Mimi Marziani, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is among groups opposed to the legislation.
Facing criticism and scrutiny of the bill after it was blocked by Democrats in a special legislative session last month, Republicans in Texas have started to withdraw from some provisions of the bill.
“Even the sponsor of the bill didn’t even bother to read the bill,” Marziani told Al Jazeera.
Congressional Democrats try to push back
Democrats in the US Congress are seeking to enact legislation that would restore the enforcement powers of the Department of Justice, which was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2013.
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced this week that the Senate will vote in late March on a broad package of electoral reforms, but the bill faces opposition from Republicans and is unlikely to pass.
In the House, lawmakers are working on a smaller bill aimed specifically at restoring the ability of the Department of Justice to review and approve or disapprove changes to voting rights in states with a history of discrimination.
And Democrats are suing in 14 states to protect voting rights, tweeted Marc Elias, the party’s leading litigator.
My team is currently suing to protect voting rights in 14 states.
– Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) June 8, 2021
Meanwhile, the stolen election fiction that led Trump supporters to invade the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is alive and well among Trump’s Republican base.
Twenty-nine percent of Republicans polled in a recent Politico-Morning Consult poll said they believed Trump would be reinstated as president.
The former president told his associates he would be reinstated as president after the 2020 election results were canceled in Georgia, Arizona and other states, according to the New York Times.
There is no real prospect of this happening. U.S. courts have rejected dozens of Trump’s claims that there had been widespread fraud for lack of evidence.
Election results in these states have already been certified by state authorities and in any event, there is no provision in the US Constitution for such reinstatement.
Last week, Trump reappeared in the limelight of American politics with a speech to a Republican rally in North Carolina in which he repeated false allegations of widespread fraud and called the 2020 election a “crime of the century.” .