Kamala Harris warned on Sunday that November’s midterm elections will determine whether the ‘age-old sanctity’ of the right to vote will be protected in the United States or whether the country’s ‘so-called extremist leaders’ will continue to restrict access at the ballot box.
With just 56 days to go and with the Democratic majority in both houses of Congress slim, the vice president said “everything hangs in the balance in this election.”
In an interview with NBC News’ Meet the Press, she said the country faces a growing threat from domestic extremism.
“I think it’s very dangerous and I think it’s very harmful, and it weakens us,” she said.
Harris pointed to the plethora of extreme election deniers, many of whom were endorsed by Donald Trump, who have embraced Trump’s lie that the 2020 election, won by Joe Biden, was “stolen” from him.
Many of them, including Biden has recently slammed as “maga Republicans,” after the Trump campaign slogan Make America Great Again, won the Republican nomination for statewide positions that control election administration.
If they win in November, they could wield considerable power over national elections and the 2024 presidential race.
“There are 11 people currently vying for the position of secretary of state, the guardians of the integrity of their state’s electoral system, who are election deniers,” Harris said. “Add to that people who hold some of the highest elective offices in our country and who refuse to condemn an insurrection on January 6.”
She said an “age-old sanctity” – the right to vote – had been violated in response to Biden’s victory which saw Americans voting in unprecedented numbers, often by mail or drop boxes, which helped to increase access. “I think it scared some people, that the American people are voting in such large numbers,” she said.
Attempts by Congress to bolster voting rights have so far been thwarted by the filibuster of the Senate, which requires 60 votes to pass most laws.
Harris said if Democrats increase their Senate majority midterm, Biden would strike down the filibuster specifically for voting rights legislation. He could then pass blocked suffrage legislation that increases democratic guarantees.
“We need to have protections to ensure that every American, whom they vote for, has the unfettered ability to do so when it is otherwise their right,” she said.
On Sunday morning, Harris and the second gentleman, her husband, Doug Emhoff, joined the memorial event at the National September 11 Memorial in New York to mark the anniversary Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on the United States, which killed 2,977 people.
The vice president did not speak, as is tradition, but in the interview that aired on NBC, she also spoke about America’s reputation as a global model of democracy under threat.
She cited the right’s challenges to electoral integrity, including the attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, in an attempt to reverse the defeat of Donald Trump, and the reluctance of hardline Republicans to condemn it, while presenting many candidates in the current elections who still refuse to accept the true result.
And she added that when meeting with foreign leaders, the United States “has historically had the honor and privilege to stand tall with us as a defender and example of a great democracy. And that then gives us the legitimacy and the position to talk about the importance of democratic principles, the rule of law, human rights…. through the process of what we have been through, we are beginning to allow people to question our commitment to these principles. And that’s a shame.”