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biden: US President Joe Biden to ask US lawmakers to protect democracy in Georgia voting rights push

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ATLANTA: President Joe Biden on Tuesday sought to revive U.S. voting rights reforms and fight new state laws that critics say hinder Black and Hispanic voters as his Democrats face a dwindling opportunity before congressional elections this year.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.‘s birthplace of Atlanta, where they will speak at Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College, two historically Black schools.
In a powerful moment of symbolism before the speech, Biden and Harris paused and bowed their heads before a wreath laid at the King grave site as members of the King family stood by. King was slain by an assassin in 1968.
“Keep the faith,” he told reporters when asked what his message was to people disappointed that he had not done more on voting rights to date.
He and Harris then ducked into King’s former place of worship, Ebenezer Baptist Church.
Democrats are girding themselves for tough 2022 congressional elections that could strip them of their majority and the chance to change federal voting laws.
Many civil rights activists say Biden should have done more during his first year in office to push for reforms, and some, including Georgia’s Stacey Abrams, won’t attend his speech.
Biden told reporters at the White House on Tuesday that he spoke to Abrams and despite a schedule mix-up, they are “on the same page.”
The speech will be Biden’s second in as many weeks warning about the health of democracy in the United States. On Jan. 6, he targeted former President Donald Trump’s “web of lies” about the 2020 election, blaming his Republican predecessor for the deadly attacks on the U.S. Capitol a year before.
Trump continues to say that the 2020 election was stolen by Biden’s Democrats through voter fraud, despite recounts and investigations that found no evidence to back the claim. Since then, Republican lawmakers in 19 states have passed dozens of laws making it harder to vote. Critics say these measures disproportionately affect minorities.
Biden wants to build public support for proposed reforms to strengthen voting rights, particularly the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Both have so far withered under opposition from Republicans, who argue they would impose questionable national standards on local elections.
“This is one of those defining moments. It really is,” Biden told reporters as he left Washington. “The risk is making sure people understand just how important this is.”
In Atlanta, he planned to ask Americans, and particularly U.S. lawmakers, whether they will “choose democracy over autocracy, light over shadow, justice over injustice?,” according to prepared remarks provided by the White House.
“I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic,” he planned to say.
Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday said Democrats were promoting the idea that a “sinister anti-voting plot” was sweeping America. “It does not exist,” he said.
Biden will be joined in Atlanta by Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, two of the slain civil rights leader’s children, as well as top civil rights activists, including Reverend Jesse Jackson, Reverend Al Sharpton, NAACP President Derrick Johnson and National Urban League President Marc Morial.
Some voting-rights advocacy groups frustrated with a lack of progress are boycotting the president’s visit. April England-Albright, legal director for Black Voters Matter in Atlanta, said the groups told Biden, “We don’t need a photo op.”
Representatives for Abrams could not be immediately reached for comment. She backed Biden’s efforts in a post on Twitter on Monday.





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