Voting is a “sacred right under assault with incredible intensity like I’ve never seen,” the president said, referring to efforts by Republican state lawmakers nationwide to tighten election security. He made the remarks during a visit to Tulsa, Oklahoma, on the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.
“I’m asking Vice President Harris to help these efforts, to lead them among her many other responsibilities. With her leadership and your support, we’re going to overcome again,” Biden said. “It’s going to take a hell of a lot of work.”
The president described the more than 380 election overhaul bills in 48 states as “a truly unprecedented assault on our democracy.”
“Every American has a right to have their voice heard at the ballot box, and no American should be kept from voting early, voting by mail, or voting at all,” Harris said in a statement.
“Our Administration will not stand by when confronted with any effort that keeps Americans from voting,” she said, adding that she will work with voting rights organizations, community organizations, the private sector, and lawmakers to bolster voting rights.
Florida and Georgia have both added measures to protect the sanctity of the ballot box and to add security to other methods of voting. Those laws have faced significant opposition from Democrats.
In Texas on May 31, House Democrats staged a walkout of the chamber in an effort to prevent the passage of a sweeping election overhaul bill that would grant more power to poll watchers by giving them more access inside polling areas, while creating new penalties against election officials who restrict poll watchers’ movements, among other measures.
Critics of that bill, including Democrats and progressive groups, argue that it would add barriers for minorities and is tantamount to “voter suppression.” Texas Democratic Party Chair Gilberto Hinojosa echoed claims made by Democrats in other states by saying the bill is an attempt to “silence voters in Texas, especially voters of color.”
Republicans believe otherwise, including Texas state Rep. Jeff Leach, who wrote on Twitter that the measure is “strong [and] sensible election integrity legislation that ensures and protects full access to the ballot box while deterring and cracking down on illegal activity that undermines our elections.”
Democrats have said that laws regulating mail-in ballots are a ploy by Republicans in response to former President Donald Trump’s election loss, while Republicans have said that mail-in-voting creates conditions conducive to fraudulent activities and requires more oversight to ensure election integrity.
Janita Kan and Jack Phillips contributed to this report.