In remarks in recent days, Vice President Kamala Harris reiterated the imperative push behind the fight to protect voting rights across the country, explaining how Senate Republicans’ recent filibuster of the voting rights bill known as the For the People Act does not mean that underlying efforts are drawing a close. Instead, as Harris put it, those involved in the issue “must continue to work” on both passing federal legislation and going after state-level efforts to restrict voting rights. Recently, the Justice Department even filed suit against Georgia state authorities over a set of suppressive election restrictions that Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed into law there.
Discussing the path ahead, Harris commented as follows:
‘We must continue to work on passing federal legislation, the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, to ensure that we have national standards that are in place to protect every American’s right to vote… This is not a Democrats’ issue or a Republicans’ issue. This is an American issue. And so federal legislation, I think, is going to be critically important to support that very basic principle, again, about our democracy.’
Republicans were able to halt the progress of the For the People Act because of the Senate’s filibuster rules, which demand the agreement of at least 60 Senators in the 100-member chamber before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation. With the chamber’s current party breakdown, that works out to a requirement for the support of at least 10 Republicans.
Meanwhile, Harris also spoke of the need for “reminding and uplifting the voices so that the public understands what is happening in their state legislatures.” Referencing the still ongoing push by Republicans in positions of state-level leadership to enact new election restrictions, she also spoke of the “seriousness of this, the immanence of it, and the fact that this is an active play.” As she put it:
‘It’s about what we can do to uplift all the voices around stopping legislation that is in process, but also addressing what must happen in those states where legislation has already passed to empower voters and to navigate a system that has been tampered with.’
Watch Harris below:
.@VP Kamala Harris: "We must continue to work on passing federal legislation, the For the People Act, the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, to ensure that we have national standards that are in place to protect every American's right to vote." pic.twitter.com/Ly94tcqCVA
— The Hill (@thehill) June 26, 2021
Restrictions that have been put in place by state Republican leaders include new voter ID requirements, new limits on the usage of drop boxes for mail-in ballots, and more. In Georgia, new election guidelines completely ban the usage of mobile polling places, which were used last year in Fulton County, which is highly populated and includes a large Black population. In their new lawsuit, federal authorities assert that Georgia leaders enacted the restrictions “with knowledge of the disproportionate effect that numerous provisions, both singly and together, would have on Black voters’ ability to participate in the political process on an equal basis with white voters.”