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nytimes – Garland pledges to redouble efforts to protect voting rights

Republican-led legislatures in several states, including Georgia, Florida, and Iowa, have passed laws imposing new voting restrictions, and Texas, New Hampshire, Arizona, and Michigan, among other states , are considering changing their electoral systems.

At the same time, hopes on the left faded over whether Congress would pass two major election bills after West Virginia Democrat Senator Joe Manchin III said he would not support the abolition of systematic obstruction to advance such measures.

Mr Garland said protecting the right to vote was one of his top priorities as attorney general, and his top lieutenants include leading voting rights advocates such as Vanita Gupta, the 3rd head of the department. , and Kristen Clarke, the head of the Civil Rights Division. The division currently has a dozen staff members, according to a department manager familiar with the staff.

Despite his promise, Mr Garland is still limited in what he can do unless Democrats in Congress somehow manage to pass new voter protection laws. He can sue states that have violated any of the country’s four main federal voting rights laws. It can notify state and local governments when it believes their procedures violate federal law. And federal prosecutors can charge people who bullied voters with a federal crime.

The Department of Justice’s most powerful tool, the Voting Rights Act, was significantly weakened by a 2013 Supreme Court ruling that overturned elements of the law requiring states with inherited racial discrimination to receive l approval from the Ministry of Justice before they can change their electoral laws.

Now, the department can only prosecute once a law has been passed and found to be against the law, meaning that a restrictive law could go through multiple election cycles as disputes creep through. way to court.

New measures to protect voting rights are unlikely to move quickly, said Joanna Lydgate, a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general who co-founded the United States United Democracy Center. “People will have to be patient,” she said.

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