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Kamala Harris focuses on voting heading into November elections

The vice president unveiled four initiatives designed to ensure access to polling places.


Vice President Kamala Harris announced a series of initiatives on Tuesday designed to help Americans participate in the November elections.

The event created an interesting split-screen on TV, as much of the national press coverage was focused on the Michigan primary. On one screen, journalists were seemingly obsessed with stories about Michigan voters threatening to withhold their support from the Biden-Harris ticket this fall. On the other screen, the Biden administration was focusing on how to stop people who want to make it harder to vote.

You can count me among the people who think the latter is far more worrisome than the former. And yet, it feels like stories of voter suppression and voter intimidation efforts seem to get short shrift from most outlets these days. It’s as though many in the mainstream press are taking for granted the fact that Republicans, many of whom backed a violent, deeply racist coup attempt in 2021, then started rolling back voting rights and waging legal fights to restrict voter access, even as violent threats against election workers have become more and more common.

Harris’ announcement was encouraging because it acknowledged a crisis many people keep ignoring.

So Harris’ announcement on Tuesday, at an event where she was flanked by voting rights activists, was encouraging to me largely because it acknowledged a crisis many people keep ignoring.

She announced four initiatives:

  • One that calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to email information on voter registration to everyone who enrolls in the Affordable Care Act. The Department of the Interior will post this information at the entrances to national parks, as well. 
  • One that allows students to earn money through the federal work-study program for registering people to vote or working as nonpartisan poll workers. 
  • One that vows to protect election workers through a Justice Department division known as the “Election Threats Task Force.” The division was launched in 2021 to respond to threats against election workers, like the one made by a Michigan man who pleaded guilty this week. 
  • One that urges the Justice Department to double down on its fight against voter suppression laws nationwide.

Harris also announced three “national days of action” centered on voting. One will take place on Juneteenth, one on the anniversary of the signing of the Voting Rights Act, and another will take place on National Voter Registration Day, which is Sept. 17.

I see these announcements as crucial for two reasons. First, election officials like Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes have been sounding the alarm on the need for Justice to take a firmer approach to dealing with threats against election workers. In January, Fontes said Attorney General Merrick Garland was “imperiling our democracy” by being “far too cautious” in investigating and prosecuting threats. Harris' urgency on the topic could spur the DOJ to act more decisively. And it can also remind the public about the various ways right-wingers are trying to place their thumbs on the scale in this year's ever-important elections.