America’s attorney general, Merrick Garland, the former judge famously denied a hearing on his nomination to the Supreme Court as Barack Obama’s tenure in the White House terminated, is using his office to “inflame” the fight over voting across the nation, according to an analysis by Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovsky.
In fact, his premise for criticism “is demonstrably false,” von Spakovsky, of the foundation’s Meese Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, wrote in a commentary published by Fox.
The reaction stemmed from Garland’s recent speech on voting rights, which von Spakovsky described as “partisan, political” and “designed to inflame.”
“What’s worse, his central assertion – that state efforts to improve the integrity of the election process will make it ‘harder’ for eligible citizens to vote – is demonstrably false,” he said.
The problem was Garland’s references to a 2013 Supreme Court decision known as Shelby County v. Holder, in which the justices lifted some of the requirements that certain jurisdictions get preapproval for changes in voting procedures – 50 years after those requirements had been imposed.
While Garland claimed the decision would weaken voting rights protections, it actually did no such thing, von Spakovsky confirmed.
“That decision left untouched the most important parts of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, including Section 2 – a permanent, nationwide ban on racial discrimination in voting. Garland’s Justice Department can use Section 2 to fight voting discrimination wherever it occurs. (Fortunately, such discrimination is so rare these days that, in eight years, the Obama administration filed only four cases alleging voting discrimination under Section 2 – a fact Garland neglected to mention.),” he wrote.
“What the court did in Shelby County was end the preclearance provisions of Section 5 that required a very small number of states and local jurisdictions – like Alabama and Georgia – to get the Justice Department’s approval before making any changes in their voting laws. Section 5 was meant to be only a temporary provision, addressing what was happening in 1965.”
Further, Garland claimed that since that decision there’s been a huge increase in attempts by lawmakers to restrict voting.
“Yet the states correctly say those same efforts are meant only to protect voters by enhancing the security of their elections,” he explained. “Census data clearly don’t support Garland’s claim. The Census Bureau’s 2020 election survey reports that last year’s election logged ‘the highest voter turnout of the 21st century.'”
He pointed out that actually after the decision that Garland claimed hurt voting, 66.8% of voting-age citizens turned out to vote – just short of a record turnout.
“Moreover, polls consistently find that most voters, no matter their race or party preferences, support the so-called ‘restrictive’ measures, such as voter ID laws, viewing them as common-sense reforms,” he explained.
And those election audits that are going on now?
Garland also lashed out at those, charging that they could “put the integrity of the voting process at risk.”
But von Spakovsky said it’s actually the opposite.
“Every election jurisdiction in the country should conduct post-election audits, and Garland should encourage them, not try to stop them. Election audits, just like the routine audits conducted in the business world, are intended to ensure that election rules and procedures were complied with and that voting equipment functioned correctly. The intent is to identify and remedy any problems that may have occurred in last year’s election and to instill greater public confidence in our democracy, not to diminish it.”
He cited an audit in New Hampshire that revealed a “serious problem” in voting machines.
“The miscounted ballots did not change the outcome of the election, but without the audit, local officials would not have known they had a problem that needs to be fixed before the next election,” he said.
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