Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday announced that the Department of Justice would be “doubling” its enforcement staff to oversee the implementation of voting rights around the country, a move that comes amid a major push by Republican-led legislatures across the U.S. to reform voting laws in an effort to ensure secure local and federal elections.
Garland in his speech cited widespread efforts by Republican legislators around the country to shore up state voting systems with measures such as voter I.D. requirements and stringent oversight on matters such as mass mail-in voting. Those efforts have been decried as “voter suppression” by Democrats and activists around the U.S.
“So far this year, at least 14 states have passed new laws that make it harder to vote,” Garland claimed during the speech.
Citing existing federal statute—including the historic Voting Rights Act—Garland said the Justice Department over the next month would “double the division’s enforcement staff for protecting the right to vote.”
“There are many things that are open to debate in American,” he said, “but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them.”