President Biden on Friday met with Stacey Abrams and Georgia lawmakers while in Atlanta to discuss voting rights in the face of legislation introduced by state GOP lawmakers in various states that would restrict access to the ballot.
Biden and Vice President Harris met with Abrams, Sens. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms during a stop at Emory University.
"They discussed state legislation in Georgia and across the country that would make it harder for people to vote, along with possible solutions to make voting more accessible," White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. "The President re-affirmed his commitment to re-authorizing the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and his strong belief that every eligible voter should be able to vote and have their vote counted."
Biden and Harris traveled to Atlanta after shootings earlier this week that left eight people dead, six of whom were Asian. The president delivered a speech at Emory condemning violence against Asians, which has risen sharply during the coronavirus pandemic.
Biden used a portion of the speech to tout Georgia's elections officials standing up to pressure from former President Trump and emphasizing the importance of the right to vote.
The House earlier this month passed a sweeping voting rights bill that would require states to offer mail-in ballots, call for the creation of independent commissions to draw congressional districts in an effort to put an end to partisan gerrymandering, and provide additional resources to stave off foreign threats on elections, enable automatic voter registration, and would make Election Day a national holiday for federal workers.
But the bill is unlikely to garner the 10 Republican votes it would need to pass in the Senate. Some lawmakers have pushed for the Senate to alter or eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass voting rights legislation, which was passed by the House earlier this month.
The urgency among Democrats for federal action has increased as Republican-run states in particular have moved quickly to restrict ballot access after the 2020 election saw record turnout and a surge in mail-in voting amid the pandemic.
Overall, more than 250 bills have been introduced in 43 states that would restrict access to the ballot box. The swing states of Georgia and Arizona have seen legislators pass initiatives to limit absentee and early voting.