State AGs urge Congress to pass legislation safeguarding democracy
A group of 22 attorneys general has sent a letter to Congress urging immediate action to safeguard democracy.
In the letter, the group – including Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring – push Congress to pass legislation protecting against both voter suppression and election subversion.
“This past year we saw baseless efforts to overturn the 2020 election and anti-democratic attempts to suppress voters across the country,” Herring said. “My colleagues and I worked hard to ensure that our voters’ rights were protected, and the election was conducted fairly and freely in our respective states. It’s time for Congress to act at the federal level to stop disenfranchisement and protect our elections in order to prevent similar situations in the future. This country was founded on democratic principles and we must ensure that those remain intact, no matter who is in office.”
In the letter, Herring and his colleagues describe how their offices worked to ensure that the 2020 general election was conducted freely, fairly, and with integrity. They add that several factors contributed to the failure of former President Trump and his allies to overturn a democratic outcome saying, “The legal arguments made by those seeking to overturn election results were generally so extraordinarily weak that they did not even have the veneer of legitimacy. Certain election officials – both Republican and Democratic – refused to buckle under pressure at critical points, placing election integrity and our democracy, ahead of partisanship. And the attack on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, while dangerous, was inept.”
Without new federal legislation strengthening protections for voting rights and preventing election subversion, Herring and his colleagues are concerned that the nation cannot confidently rely on the incompetence of subverters to protect the will of the voters in future elections.
Several states have passed laws that create new barriers to voting or make it easier to overturn election results. In a statement issued on June 1 of this year, more than 100 democracy scholars explain, “[W]e have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election.”
They observe that “[s]tatutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration” and “seeking to restrict access to the ballot.” And they warn, “[T]hese laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislators or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election.”
In their letter, Herring and his colleagues say, “The truths upon which this nation was founded are self-evident. They are not self-executing, however. The profound challenges confronting our democracy demand that Congress act to prevent voter suppression and election subversion.
Irrespective of one’s views on the value of the filibuster in general, it must not be allowed to stop Congress from addressing these issues so fundamental to our Constitution and our democracy.”