Vice President Kamala Harris said Thursday the Democratic National Committee would more than double its planned spending on voter registration, outreach and protections ahead of the 2022 midterm election, but civil rights groups said a law is needed to counter new voting restrictions in some GOP-led states.
“We have never really started this early before,” Harris told cheering students at Howard University. “But folks, it is never too early to defend your rights.”
Harris’ comments, at a Democratic Party event at Howard, her alma mater, came after months of Democratic losses on voting rights in the Supreme Court and some Republican-controlled state legislatures. She said the party would spend $25 million on top of $20 million already announced for a party program called “I Will Vote” that began in 2014.
Her address at the nation’s most prominent historically Black university was intended to link the effort to the civil rights movement. However, when Harris and President Biden later met for an hour and 40 minutes with civil rights leaders, the activists pressed for greater effort to get Congress to pass bills expanding voting access over Republican opposition.
“We will not be able to litigate our way out of this threat to Black citizenship voting and political participation,” Sherrilyn Ifill, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, told reporters afterward. “We must have legislation. We must have the president use his voice, use his influence, use his power and use what he clearly understands about this moment.”