President Joe Biden delivered a key suffrage speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday, slamming his predecessor’s “big lie” that the 2020 elections were stolen.
“It is clear that for those who question the results or question the integrity of the choice, no other choice has ever been subjected to such testing or such high standards. The ‘big lie’ is just that: a big lie, ”said Biden at the National Constitution Center, just steps from Independence Hall.
The speech comes as his administration faces increasing pressure from civil rights activists and other Democrats to do more against attacks on the franchise, an issue that Biden described as “the most significant test” of American democracy since the Civil War.
Biden rejected claims by former President Donald Trump that widespread electoral fraud cost him the 2020 elections, a claim that has led GOP leaders to enact a spate of new electoral laws in key states including Florida and Georgia. Critics argue that the new laws are discriminatory and restrict access to voting.
The President directly condemned these efforts by the GOP-controlled legislature as the “Jim Crow attack” and likened them to behavior observed in autocracies around the world.
“It’s easy for me. This is election subversion. It is the most dangerous threat to the integrity of free and fair elections in our history, ”said Biden. “They want the opportunity to reject the final census and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses.”
Protect voting rights
In his remarks, Biden urged the passage of a federal electoral law, saying the struggle to protect voting rights will begin with the passage of the For The People Act.
“This bill would help end state voter suppression, get dark money out of politics, give people a voice, make fair district maps and end partisan gerrymandering,” Biden said.
He criticized Republicans for defying the comprehensive Democratic Voting Rights and Government Ethics Act, which was not passed in the Senate last month after Republicans deployed the filibuster.
Biden also underlined the importance of the passage of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would “restore and expand electoral protection and prevent voter suppression”. He urged Republican lawmakers to support democratic laws that would protect voting rights.
“We will ask my Republican friends in Congress and in states and cities and counties to stand up for God’s sake and help prevent these concerted efforts to undermine our election and sacred suffrage,” said Biden.
Criticizing the “damaging” Supreme Court rulings that undermined the 1965 Suffrage Act, the president noted that in 2013 the court first gutted a key provision of the bill and ratified two Republican-backed Arizona electoral bills on July 1, which the Democrats believe violate The Act.
The court also restricted the ability to “prove premeditated racial discrimination,” making it difficult for advocacy groups and the Justice Department to oppose restrictive voter laws, according to a White House memo broadcast prior to the speech.
Biden called on Congress to repair the “damage done” by passing a voting law.
Prepare for the midterms
Biden warned that the US “will face another test” during the midterm elections in 2022, adding that the nation must prepare for electoral suppression and electoral subversion.
“We need to prepare now. As I’ve said over and over, no matter what, you can never stop the American people from voting. They will decide, and power must always be with the people. So just like we did in 2020 . ” , we have to prepare for 2022, “said Biden.
According to a report from the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s School of Law, at least 17 states had passed laws restricting access to voting by mid-June.
Georgia Republican Governor Brian Kemp signed a restrictive electoral law in March after it was passed by the state’s Republican-controlled legislation. The law requires voters to identify themselves to vote by mail and prohibits people from giving food and water to voters waiting in line. Punitive measures that critics say may affect voter turnout in minority communities.
The Biden government then appealed to the courts. The Justice Department sued Georgia on June 25, arguing that the electoral law violated the rights of black Georgians.
Passing new laws in Congress to protect voting rights would likely require a change in filibuster rules, especially since the Democrats have a wafer-thin majority in the Senate. But Biden supported the reform instead of getting rid of the filibuster, which makes the future of the new electoral laws uncertain.
Look beyond Washington
Now that Democrats’ legislative efforts have stalled, the White House is beginning to look outside Washington for ways to combat the wave of new election restrictions.
Biden had several meetings with civil rights groups in the White House urging the government to continue to fight for the right to vote despite opposition from Republicans. The groups have come out against Republican-backed voting restrictions, which critics say are aimed at Hispanic, black, and younger voters.
Vice President Kamala Harris, tasked with leading the government’s efforts to protect voting rights, also recently announced a new $ 25 million investment by the Democratic National Committee to expand its program that will help to strengthen voter engagement in the upcoming midterm elections.
During the early months of his presidency, Biden also signed an executive order directing agencies to encourage access to voters. This includes developing better ways to disseminate election information and increasing opportunities to participate in the electoral process that includes voters with diverse needs, such as military service, people with disabilities, and tribal communities.