Salon: Biden team calls for “out-organizing” voter suppression — activists say that’s insulting
Salon: Biden team calls for “out-organizing” voter suppression — activists say that's insulting
Civil rights groups have accused President Joe Biden of “empty platitudes” on voting rights after he defended the filibuster as his administration reportedly shifts focus away from passing major legislation and toward a push to “out-organize” new Republican voting laws inspired by former President Donald Trump’s false claims of election fraud. …
Litigation and organizing will be key components in the Democratic strategy to counter the onslaught of new election laws, “but can only go so far,” Aaron Scherb, the director of legislative affairs at the nonpartisan voting group Common Cause, told Salon, calling the White House line about “out-organizing” voter suppression “insulting to the hundreds of thousands of organizers who worked tirelessly to turn out voters.” …
Voting rights advocates remain optimistic that a revised bill could move the needle in the Senate.
“The first point is getting a package that all 50 Senate Democrats can unify behind” before moving to the next step, which is “how to get it done,” Scherb said. “I think increasingly all Senate Democrats recognize what they have to do. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out how to get from point A to point B.” …
Voting rights advocates respond that Biden has publicly pressured senators on his stimulus and infrastructure proposals, but has yet to do so on the issue most central to preserving democracy — not to mention Democrats’ electoral fortunes.
“Certainly the White House has made the calculation that infrastructure’s extremely important, which it is, but I think all rights are derivative from voting rights, and I think that needs to be a continued priority from the White House,” Scherb said.
He recalled Lyndon B. Johnson traveling the country during the debate over the Voting Rights Act, seeking to put “pressure on the Senate that this is the issue that must get done.”
“We really need the president and the administration to use its full power of the bully pulpit,” he said.
The Biden administration has in fact taken unilateral action to push back on some of the new laws. The Justice Department earlier this year sued Georgia over new voting laws it said had been “passed with a discriminatory purpose” and “adopted with the intent” to restrict Black voters’ rights. Last week, the department warned states that new election laws and dubious so-called election audits, like the seemingly endless one in Arizona’s Maricopa County, must comply with federal law.
But “litigation can take a number of years,” Scherb said, and “the clock is certainly a challenge” as the 2022 election approaches. Last month’s Supreme Court decision upholding discriminatory voting laws in Arizona also made it “much more challenging to file legislation under the Voting Rights Act,” he said.