Jan 17, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Harris on MLK Day: "Our freedom to vote is under assault"

Picture of Kamala Harris speaking behind a podium
Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Vice President Kamala Harris delivered remarks to commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, calling him a "prophet" and saying that he "pushed for the freedom that unlocks all others: the freedom to vote."

Driving the news: Harris pushed for an expansion of voting rights as she addressed via video the congregation of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Georgia.

  • "Today, our freedom to vote is under assault," she said. "In Georgia and across our nation, anti-voter laws are being passed that could make it more difficult for as many as 55 million Americans to vote. ... That is one out of six people in our country."

What she's saying: Harris said the proponents of more restrictive laws are working "to interfere with our elections, to get the outcomes they want and to discredit those they do not. That is not how democracies work."

  • "We know that this assault on our freedom to vote will be felt by every American in every community in every political party. We know that if we stand idly by, that our entire nation will pay the price for generations to come," she added.

Harris again called for the Senate to pass voting rights legislation, which she said "represents the first real opportunity to secure the freedom to vote since the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act nearly a decade ago."

Catch up quick: The House last week passed a voting rights bill, approving a measure that combines the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Amendment Act.

  • However, the package faces an uphill battle in the Senate because of Republican opposition.

The big picture: 19 states enacted laws that add hurdles to the voting process in 2021, more than any other year for at least a decade, Axios' Stef Kight reports.

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