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US Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday offered a fierce defense of the right to vote, which he called an indisputable “cornerstone” of American democracy, outlining a series of measures designed to protect these rights.
“There is a lot open for 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 flow. “Garland said. during an address to the Civil Rights Division of the Ministry of Justice.
Following former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of a stolen 2020 election, many Republican-led legislatures across the country have sought in recent months to pass restrictive voting measures which critics say , are often designed specifically to deprive racial minorities and the poor of their rights.
Garland noted that at least 14 states have passed new laws this year to make voting more difficult. These states include Georgia, Florida, and Arizona.
“To meet the challenge of the present day, we must reallocate the resources of the Department of Justice to an essential part of its original mission: to enforce federal law to protect the right to vote for all eligible voters,” Garland said.
As part of the mission, Garland said the Justice Department would double the number of voter emancipation attorneys in the civil rights division and take a closer look at voting rights laws, including by reviewing state law for possible disqualification from voting against black voters and others. colored.
Garland also said the department will review recent reviews of the 2020 state election results. The Justice Department has previously raised concerns about a GOP-led ballot review in Maricopa County. , Arizona.
The attorney general said his ministry’s ability to protect voting rights was hampered by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that overturned a key provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Garland has called on Congress to bring forward two voting rights bills that have the support of most Democrats but appear unlikely to pass.
As the nation’s top law enforcement official, Garland is also committed to tackling disinformation campaigns that could deter people from voting, as well as posting advice on how states should go. moving forward with mail-in ballots – a topic that has become a focal point of the partisan divide. during the 2020 race.
“Almost two and a half centuries after starting our experience of ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’, we have learned a lot about what supports a healthy democracy,” Garland said. “We know that expanding the ability of all eligible citizens to vote is the central pillar. This means ensuring that all eligible voters can vote, that all legal votes are counted, and that every voter has access to accurate information. Justice will never stop working to protect the democracy to which all Americans are entitled. “