“We want to help to make sure your vote is counted, and that is because our democracy is strongest when everyone participates and … our democracy as a nation is weaker when people are left out,” said the Vice President in her speech at Howard University on Thursday.
The announcement comes as Democrats claim that Republicans across the country are trying to limit access to voting because many GOP state legislatures have introduced or passed bills to make their voting system more secure from fraud. Democrats say every vote should count and the GOP says only lawfully cast votes should count.
Vice President Kamala Harris was appointed by President Joe Biden earlier this year to lead the administration’s voting rights efforts. The $25 million investment joins a previous commitment from DNC Chair Jamie Harrison in the amount of $20 million. Democratic Party super PAC Priorities USA Action also pledged to spend $20 million to fight back against what they call “voter suppression” efforts.
Democrats have been calling Republican-led efforts to secure voting systems in their states—such as requiring photo ID to vote—voter suppression, and one of the most criticized was the effort by Georgia.
The Republicans say the reforms in Georgia are to ensure accessible but fair voting, including requiring photo or state-approved identification to vote absentee by mail. The law also mandates that secure drop boxes be placed inside early voting locations, with constant surveillance, and it expands early voting across the state to address a key Democrat concern.
The law, the Election Integrity Act of 2021 (formerly SB 202), also shortens the election cycle for runoffs to four weeks from nine and requires a minimum of one week of early voting before Election Day.
On March 26, during his first solo press conference, Biden criticized the law as “a blatant attack on the Constitution and good conscience.”
“It adds rigid restrictions on casting absentee ballots that will effectively deny the right to vote to countless voters. And it makes it a crime to provide water to voters while they wait in line—lines Republican officials themselves have created by reducing the number of polling sites across the state, disproportionately in Black neighborhoods.”
The provisions of SB 202 state that no one can use food, water, or material goods to influence voters. However, poll officers can make “available self-service water from an unattended receptacle to an elector waiting in line to vote.”
While Harris meets with black leaders, Biden will be having his own meeting with community leaders including representatives from the NAACP, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, National Urban League, National Action Network, National Council of Negro Women, The Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Biden shared his reason for meeting with leaders in the black community.
“This afternoon, the vice president and I will be meeting with black leaders of legacy civil rights organizations. We have urgent work before us—and we are committed to doing everything we can to protect the sacred right to vote and pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act,” Biden said in a social media post on Thursday.
Besides the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, Democrats are trying to pass legislation to make sweeping reforms to states’ voting systems. The For The People Act of 2021 (H.R. 1) would nationalize elections, taking away control of how elections are run by individual states.