The U.S. Department of Justice will review and challenge a series of new laws proposed and passed by Republicans that would limit voting rights in key U.S. 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 law enforcement on voting rights by Garland, the first official of the furious Biden administration, comes as Republicans in Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas have passed new laws since the 2020 presidential election that critics say make it harder for people to vote.
Similar projects have been proposed or advanced in more than a dozen other states including Texas, which considers a far-reaching electoral project 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 U.S. voting rights statutes and “examine new laws that seek to curb voter access, and where we see violations, we don’t hesitate to act, ”Garland said.
Justice will apply “special scrutiny” to post-election checks “as one in progress now in Arizona backed by the state-controlled Republican Senate, to ensure they comply with federal laws, Garland warned.
Trump’s false statements are the catalyst for GOP
Allegedly widespread electoral fraud without evidence, former President Donald Trump had brought more than 40 lawsuits in the major United States seeking to overturn President Joe Biden’s electoral victory in 2020.
These cases have been dismissed by judges, but Trump’s continued insistence that elections have been “rigged” continues to lead Republicans across the country to push for more restrictive voting laws.
For example, the pending bill in the Texas legislature would restrict so-called “polling polls” by black churches, criminalize common voting activity and prohibit local officials from sending candidates for mail-in polls.
“The bill disproportionately affects people of color,” said Mimi Marziani, president of the Texas Civil Rights Project that is part of groups that oppose the legislation.
Faced with criticism and intense scrutiny of the proposed legislation after it was blocked by Democrats in an extraordinary legislative session last month, Texas Republicans have begun to move away from some of the draft provisions.
“Even the project sponsor didn’t even bother to read the project,” Marziani told Al Jazeera.
Congress Democrats are trying to push it back
Democrats in the U.S. Congress are seeking to enact legislation that restores enforcement powers to the Department of Justice that was struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2013.
Majority leader Chuck Schumer announced this week that the Senate will vote in late March on a package of electoral reforms but the bill faces the Republican opposition and is unlikely to pass.
In the House, lawmakers are working on a tighter bill specifically aimed at restoring the Department of Justice’s ability to review and approve or disapprove changes to voting rights in states with histories of discrimination.
And Democrats are demanding in 14 states to protect voting rights, tweeted Marc Elias, the party’s main electoral litigator.
My team is currently asking for a lawsuit to protect voting rights in 14 states.⚖️
– Marc E. Elias (@marceelias) June 8, 2021
Does Trump restore?
Meanwhile, the fiction that the election was stolen has led to Trump supporters invades the U.S. Capitol on January 6 is alive and well among Trump’s Republican base.
Twenty-nine percent of Republicans surveyed in a recent Politico-Morning Consult poll said they believe Trump will be restored as president.
The former president has told his associates that he will be reinstated as president after the 2020 election results in Georgia, Arizona and other states have changed, according to the New York Times.
There is no real prospect that would happen. U.S. courts have rejected dozens of Trump claims that there had been widespread fraud for lack of evidence.
Electoral results in those states have already been certified by state authorities and in any case there is no provision in the US Constitution for such reinstatement.
Last week, Trump reappeared in U.S. political spotlight with a speech at a North Carolina Republican meeting in which he reiterated false allegations of widespread fraud and called the 2020 election “the crime. of the century “.