Voting laws are being scrutinized by the Justice Department to see if they discriminate against voters of color.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the Department of Justice is taking new efforts to defend voting rights in the United States.
Garland promised to quadruple the size of the agency’s Civil Rights Division over the next 30 days during a press conference on Friday. He claimed that the agency will “ensure that we protect every qualified American wishing to engage in our democracy” by utilizing all available measures under the Voting Rights Act and other legislation.
Garland stated, “The Civil Rights Division is going to need more lawyers.”
“We are investigating new regulations that seek to restrict voter access, and we will not hesitate to act if we detect violations,” he added. We’re also looking into present laws and practices to see if they discriminate against African-American and other minority voters.”
Garland said it was “especially worrisome” to see studies showing that non-white voters in some jurisdictions have to wait significantly longer in line at the polls than white voters.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, a Republican-led movement to modify election rules and limit voter access is underway.
Between January 1 and May 14, 2021, at least 14 states adopted 22 new laws restricting access to the vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a bipartisan law and public policy institute at New York University Law School.
According to the Brennan Center, that number is certain to rise, as at least 61 measures containing restricted measures are currently being debated in 18 state legislatures.
By staging a walkout at the state capitol last month, Texas Democrats were able to defeat a restrictive voting bill. Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, has pledged to include the contentious measure in a special session.
Republican-led initiatives to restrict voting access have been criticized by President Joe Biden as “wrong and un-American.”
In late May, Biden said, “In the twenty-first century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every qualified person to vote.”
On Friday, Garland called on Congress to pass federal voting legislation, specifically the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act.
While the House of Representatives passed the For the People Act in March, neither voting rights bill has gained the amount of Republican support Senate Democrats need to break the filibuster.
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