BusinessGarland to Detail Justice Dept. Plan to Protect Voting...

Garland to Detail Justice Dept. Plan to Protect Voting Rights

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Attorney General Merrick B. Garland on Friday plans to announce steps that the Justice Department can take to secure voting rights.

Mr. Garland’s plans, expected to be announced Friday afternoon, come as Republican-led state legislatures push to enact new restrictive voting laws.

In more than a dozen states, at least 22 new laws have been passed that make it more difficult to vote, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, a progressive public policy institute that is part of the New York University School of Law.

Democrats have filed lawsuits against some new voting laws, but that litigation could take years to wind its way through the courts and may have little power to stop those laws from impacting upcoming elections.

Two major federal election bills — the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — are also the subject of fierce debate in Congress.

Earlier this week, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, said that he would oppose the For the People Act, dashing hopes among progressives that the far-reaching bill intended to fight voter suppression would ever become law.

The bill as it stands would roll back the measures in Republican state legislatures that limit early and mail-in voting. The bill also has an ethics portion, created in response to President Donald J. Trump’s willingness to ignore longstanding presidential norms.

Mr. Garland has said that protecting the right to vote is one of his top priorities as attorney general, and his top lieutenants include high-profile voting rights advocates such as Vanita Gupta, the department’s No. 3 official, and Kristen Clarke, the head of the Civil Rights Division.

Ms. Clarke’s long career advocating for voting rights protections — including at the N.A.A.C.P. Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the New York attorney general’s office and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law — will make her a key player in the Justice Department’s work to preserve voting access.

But that work is made more difficult by a 2013 Supreme Court decision that struck down pieces of the Voting Rights Act, which forced states with legacies of racial discrimination to receive Justice Department approval before they could change their voting laws.

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