Harris announces $25 million investment in DNC voting rights program
Vice President Harris on Thursday introduced a $25 million expansion of the Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) “I Will Vote” initiative as Democrats look to combat a wave of voting restrictions that have been pushed this year by Republican-controlled legislatures.
“This campaign is grounded in the firm belief that everyone’s vote matters,” Harris said in a speech at Howard University, her alma mater, in Washington, D.C.
“Regardless of who you are, where you live, what party you belong to, your vote matters,” the vice president continued.
“Your vote is your power. And so I say, don’t let anybody ever take your power from you … especially the power of your voice. We will not let anyone take away our power, and that’s why we are all here together today. We’re not gonna let that happen.”
The money will go to strengthening the DNC’s efforts with voter registration, voter protection and voter education.
The $25 million investment surpasses the initial $20 million that DNC Chair Jaime Harrison announced in April the DNC would spend as the 2022 midterm races begin to take shape.
Voting rights are a key battlefront for congressional lawmakers, with two voting rights bills — the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act — key tenets of Democrats’ legislative agenda.
The For the People Act has been met with stiff GOP opposition in the Senate and it’s unlikely that there will be enough Republican support for the legislation, named after the late Georgia congressman and voting rights champion, which has yet to be introduced this session.
As more and more new restrictive voting procedures have become law in high leverage states such as Georgia and Florida, Democrats have doubled down on their stance that their two bills are the only solution to stopping voter suppression.
At the center of the partisan struggle over new voting bills across the country is former President Trump’s baseless claim that November’s presidential election was stolen from him through rampant voter fraud.
Democrats have credited the “big lie” and efforts to suppress minority voters as the catalysts behind the GOP voter bills, though Republicans have maintained that their goal is to increase voter integrity.
DNC Chair Jaime Harrison, who spoke briefly before Harris, noted this urgency in mentioning the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold two of Arizona’s voting laws that the Democratic Party asserted were in violation of the Voting Rights Act.
The 6-3 decision was seen by Democrats and advocates as a blow to the amount of power the VRA has in stopping racially discriminatory voting practices.
“Last week, the Supreme Court set back voting rights by over 50 years,” Harrison said.
“The Voting Rights Act was passed to prevent this type of nonsense. Our leaders then knew that racist voter suppression tactics often appear neutral, but it’s important to consider unequal impact on voters of color.”
November’s presidential election saw historic turnout on several fronts, but advocates have specifically lauded the increase in Black and Latino voter participation as major factors that sealed President Biden’s victory.
Harris and Biden are also expected to meet with prominent civil rights leaders later in the afternoon on Thursday.
-Updated 2:05 p.m.