Voting rights activist Stacey Abrams spoke out about ongoing efforts to push back against voter suppression this week, lauding officials at the Justice Department for a slew of new plans — including the doubling of the department’s voting rights staff — to protect the right to vote. Abrams also called on members of Congress to pass key voting rights legislation that is currently awaiting further action, including the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act. Each of these measures, in different ways, would enact federal protections for voting rights across the country.
Abrams commented as follows:
‘I commend Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy AG Lisa Monaco, Associate AG Vanita Gupta and Assistant AG Kristen Clarke for taking bold action to protect the freedom to vote across the country. The measures the AG outlined will strengthen our democracy. The time for federal action on voting rights is now, and the Justice Department is acting. But the department cannot alone protect our democracy; Congress must do its part by passing the #S1, the #ForThePeopleAct, and #HR4, the #JohnLewisVotingRightsAct.’
The time for federal action on voting rights is now, and the Justice Department is acting. But the department cannot alone protect our democracy; Congress must do its part by passing the #S1, the #ForThePeopleAct, and #HR4, the #JohnLewisVotingRightsAct.
— Stacey Abrams (@staceyabrams) June 11, 2021
Besides the increase in staff members at the Justice Department working on voting rights issues, Garland also said that the department would soon be issuing guidance for states covering key election-related concerns. The idea appears to be to warn Republican leaders where they’re about to break or already have broken the law by imposing undue burdens on voters. Garland rather unequivocally insisted that that the department is “scrutinizing new laws that seek to curb voter access,” adding that “where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act.” He also said that authorities would be seeking “to ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.”
As for the Congressional proposals that Abrams mentioned, both measures are currently impeded by the filibuster rules in the Senate. Under those provisions, the agreement of 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber is required before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation, which mandates a level of bipartisan cooperation before making major progress on key issues. The Republican Party, as it stands, doesn’t exactly seem systematically inclined towards bipartisan cooperation — to say the least — which poses a serious systematic problem.