President Joe Biden on Tuesday delivered a major speech on voting rights in Philadelphia, slamming his predecessor’s “Big Lie” claim that the 2020 election was stolen.
“It’s clear, for those who challenge the results or question the integrity of the election, no other election has ever been held under such scrutiny or such high standards. The ‘Big Lie’ is just that: a big lie,” Biden said at the National Constitution Center, just steps away from Independence Hall.
The speech comes as his administration faces growing pressure from civil rights activists and other Democrats to do more to combat attacks on voting rights, an issue that Biden called “the most significant test” of American democracy since the Civil War.
Biden blasted former President Donald Trump’s claims that widespread voter fraud cost him the 2020 election, a claim that has pushed GOP leaders to enact a flurry of new voting laws in key states, including Florida and Georgia. Critics argue the new laws are discriminatory and restrict access to the ballot.
The president directly denounced these efforts by GOP-controlled legislatures as a “Jim Crow assault” and compared them to behaviors seen in autocracies around the world.
“To me, this is simple. This is election subversion. It’s the most dangerous threat to voting in the integrity of free and fair elections in our history,” Biden said. “They want the ability to reject the final count and ignore the will of the people if their preferred candidate loses.”
Biden pressed for the passage of federal voting rights legislation during his remarks, saying that the fight to protect voting rights begins with passing the For The People Act.
“That bill would help end voter suppression in states, get dark money out of politics, give voice to people, create fair district maps and end partisan political gerrymandering,” Biden said.
He criticized Republicans for opposing the sweeping Democratic voting rights and government ethics bill, which failed to pass in the Senate last month after Republicans deployed the filibuster.
Biden also underscored the importance of passing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which would “restore and expand voting protections and prevent voter suppression.” He pressured Republican lawmakers to support such Democratic legislation that would protect voting rights.
“We’ll ask my Republican friends in Congress and states and cities and counties to stand up, for God’s sake, and help prevent this concerted effort to undermine our election and the sacred right to vote,” Biden said.
The president criticized the Supreme Court’s “harmful” decisions that weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965, noting that the court first gutted a key provision of the act in 2013 and on July 1 it upheld two Republican-backed Arizona voting laws that Democrats say violate the act.
The court has also limited the ability to “prove intentional racial discrimination,” according to a White House memo sent before the speech, making it difficult for advocacy groups and the Department of Justice to combat restrictive voter laws.
Biden called on Congress to repair the “damage done” by passing voting rights legislation.
Biden warned that the U.S. will “face another test in 2022” during the midterm elections, adding that the nation needs to prepare for voter suppression and election subversion.
“We have to prepare now. As I said time and again, no matter what, you can never stop the American people from voting. They will decide, and the power must always be with the people. That’s why just like we did in 2020, we have to prepare for 2022,” Biden said.
As of mid-June, at least 17 states have enacted laws that restrict access to voting, with more being considered, according to a report from…