Vice President Kamala Harris has been tapped to lead a White House push to protect voter rights amid a wave of legislation in states like Texas and Arizona to restrict ballot access that President Joe Biden called an “unprecedented assault” on U.S. democracy.
Biden announced Harris’ new task in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Tuesday, during a speech to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa race massacre, one of the deadliest episodes of racial violence in the nation’s history.
In the 100 years since the attack on the Black community of Tulsa, Black Americans continue to face systemic challenges, Biden said, including a new surge of state legislation that critics say will make it more difficult for people of color across the U.S. to vote in elections.
In her new role, Harris will work with voting rights organizations, community groups and the private sector to strengthen voting right efforts, she said in a statement to CNN.
In the wake of the contentious November election, GOP-controlled state houses are making moves to restrict voting over concerns of election security, despite a lack of evidence that voter fraud is a legitimate issue in U.S. elections.
“The work ahead of us is to make voting accessible to all American voters, and to make sure every vote is counted through a free, fair, and transparent process. This is the work of democracy,” Harris told CNN Tuesday.
Texas, Arizona, Florida and Georgia are among the states that have introduced or passed legislation that would make it harder to cast a ballot, including requiring additional identification requirements, shorter hours at polling places on Election Day, less time to request and return absentee ballots and limiting voting by mail.