The Timaru Herald
Attorney General vows to fight new GOP-led state voting laws
Attorney General Merrick Garland on Saturday vowed the Justice Department would fight voting restrictions and controversial audits pushed by Republican state legislatures in response to former President Donald Trump’s falsehood-filled campaign challenging the results of the 2020 election.
‘‘We are scrutinising new laws that seek to curb voter access, and where we see violations of federal law, we will not hesitate to act,’’ Garland said in a speech from the Justice Department.
In response to legislative action and audits, Garland said he was doubling the size of an office in the department’s Civil Rights Division and would push attorneys to scrutinise and possibly challenge a slew of laws recently enacted in 14 Republican-controlled state legislatures.
Republicans say they are passing the legislation to bolster public confidence in the voting process. But Garland, echoing the fears of voting rights advocates, asserted such laws actually ‘‘make it harder to vote.’’ Reports issued by voting rights advocates found that 14 states, including those in Georgia, Iowa and Florida, have passed 24 laws they say restrict access to the polls. Several Republican-led jurisdictions have launched audits of vote tallies, which have drawn concern from voting rights advocates.
The Justice Department last month sent a letter to Arizona legislators raising concerns about such an audit launched by the Republican-controlled state Senate. Legal and voting experts have said the audit’s methodology is flawed. President Joe Biden won the state by about 10,000 votes, the first time since 1996 that a Democrat carried the state. Trump has said without evidence that widespread fraud in that state and others cost him the election, claims that have drawn support for many Republicans.
Garland criticised such audits and new laws for not addressing ‘‘the kinds of voter fraud that are alleged as their justification.’’ ‘‘Many of the justifications proffered in support of these postelection audits and restrictions on voting have relied on assertions of material vote fraud in the 2020 election that have been refuted by the law enforcement and intelligence agencies of both this administration and the previous one, as well as by every court — federal and state — that has considered them,’’ Garland said. – LA Times