Attorney General Merrick Garland says that the Justice Department will aggressively fight nationwide efforts to restrict voting access.
Within the next 30 days, the Justice Department is going to double the number of employees in the Civil Rights Division’s “enforcement staff for protecting the right to vote.”
“There are many things that are 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,” Garland said.
Republican lawmakers across the country have signed legislation to limit access to voting.
Garland says that the “For the People Act” will provide the Department with the tools it needs to preserve voting rights.
“[W]e will use all existing provisions of the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act, the Help America Vote Act, and the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act to ensure that we protect every qualified America seeking to participate in our democracy,” the attorney general said.
Garland’s announcement was welcomed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
“The right to vote is the cornerstone of a well-functioning democracy,” the group’s president, Damon Hewitt, said in a statement. Garland “affirmed the importance of enforcing federal law to protect the franchise for all voters,” Hewitt said.
The attorney general did not commit to joining lawsuits challenging the new state laws, but experts see that as a natural next step if violations are found.
Garland noted the intimidation and death threats made against both high-level state elections officials and volunteer poll workers and said the Department of Justice and the FBI would investigate and prosecute perpetrators.
“Democracy is not a state; it is an act. And each generation must do its part,” Garland said. “Thanks to all of your work, the Department of Justice will always stand up to ensure the survival of the central pillar of our democracy.”
AG Garland: “We are scrutinizing new laws that seek to curve access and where we see violations we will not hesitate to act. We are also scrutinizing current laws and practices in order to determine whether they discredit against black voters and other voters of color.” pic.twitter.com/W5naEhPzpf
— Poli Alert (@polialertcom) June 11, 2021