Vice President Kamala Harris
is spending the week addressing Republican attacks on voting rights
and speaking to Black
Americans, one of the groups disproportionately affected by the wave of GOP-backed voting restrictions
On Thursday, Harris paid a visit to her
alma mater, Howard University
, where she announced a $25 million expansion of the Democratic National Committee
's "I Will Vote" initiative, a project that invests in improving voter education
, voter protection, targeted voter registration, and expanding voting technologies.
“In 2020, you were heard, America. You were heard loud and clear,” she told an audience at the historically Black university. “But there is another side to the story. So far this year, 17 state legislatures have enacted 28 new laws that will make it harder for Americans to vote.... And that’s not even counting the nearly 400 bills that state legislators are attempting to pass right now.”
“I believe this is intended to make it more difficult for you to vote, so you don’t vote,” she continued.
Harris' remarks came on the same day that Texas
state lawmakers arrived at the state capitol
for a special session called by Gov. Greg Abbott
(R), who is pushing a highly restrictive voting law that Republicans
failed to pass in May. The bill would limit when early voting
is allowed, ban drive-through voting, create new mail-in voting
barriers, and make it a felony for a public official to send abstentions.
Harris also spoke with Soledad O'Brien for an interview
that will air on BET this Friday, emphasizing the importance of launching a counter-offensive to the GOP's efforts as soon as possible.
“The majority of what you’re seeing in terms of attempts to suppress the vote are coming out
of legislatures in southern states
,” Harris said, adding that in states where “the legislature is hell bent on making it difficult for us to vote, we’re going to have to start rallying now to make sure we’re thinking creatively about how we register people to vote, how we remind them of what’s on the line.”
When O'Brien asked if she would compromise on some issues with Republicans, such as voter ID
laws, Harris said Americans should not "underestimate what that could mean," pointing out how those laws could affect people in rural communities.
“There’s no Kinko’s or OfficeMax nearby,” she said of proposals that would require voters
to submit photocopies of their identification.
“Of course, people must prove who they are,” she continued, “but not in such a way that it is nearly impossible for them to prove who they are.”
Sen. Joe Manchin
(D-W.Va.) recently stated that he will not vote to begin debate on the For The People Act
— a sweeping voting rights, campaign finance
, redistricting, and ethics reform bill — unless Democrats
include a national voter ID provision in the package. His party, which has a razor thin majority in the Senate
, cannot move forward on the bill without a national voter ID provision.
Former President Donald Trump
's baseless claims about voter fraud
in the 2020 election
, including his repeated lie that victory was stolen from him, have prompted a wave of restrictive voting laws in Texas and elsewhere.