WASHINGTON, (NEXSTAR) — The Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday that the Department of Justice is taking new steps to protect voting rights.
Garland said his department will push back against new voter laws in Republican-led states that he says restricts access to the ballot, as voting rights continues to be a top priority of the Biden administration.
Garland said upholding voting rights is not up for debate.
He says his office will use every tool available to uphold that promise, but that it’s going to take an act of Congress to ensure every American has access to the ballot.
“The right to vote is the corner stone of our democracy,” Garland said. “Where we see violations, we will not hesitate to act.”
Garland announced the DOJ will double the numbers of lawyers in its civil rights division to push back against what he calls a wave of voter suppression laws.
He said recent voter laws passed in 14 Republican-led states will make it harder for millions of Americans to vote, especially Americans of color.
“In some jurisdictions non-white voters must wait in line substantially longer than white voters,” Garland said.
Garland and President Joe Biden are also calling on Congress to reinstate the 1965 voting rights act, but Republicans call that effort political.
“So many polling locations in majority Democrat areas were shut down before the election,” said Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.
“Where was the outrage from Democrats,” Bryan Steil, R-Wis, said.
At a Friday hearing, Republicans argued Democrats are mischaracterizing the problem to push forward their own agenda.
“There are, I think, really common sense solutions that don’t involve a federal government takeover of our election system,” Steil said.
Republicans say they are open to passing bills to address long wait lines, but say Democrats are refusing to bring their bills to the floor.
Garland say his staffing surge will happen within the next 30 days.