AG Kaul and Other Swing State AGs Lead 22 AGs Urging Congress to Pass Legislation to Safeguard Democracy

Aug 2 2021

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul and his counterparts in three other swing states—Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, and North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein—are leading a group of 22 attorneys general in urging Congress to take action to safeguard democracy. In the letter, attorneys general ask Congress to take the steps needed—including, if necessary, to reform the filibuster—to pass legislation protecting against both voter suppression and election subversion. The AGs’ letter shares concerns about what may occur in future elections if Congress does not act urgently.


“The freedom to vote must be protected. And we must continue to ensure that the outcomes of our elections will always be determined by the will of the voters, not by partisan officials,” said Attorney General Kaul. “Congress must act to strengthen the safeguards of free and fair elections.”


In the letter, the attorneys general describe how their offices worked to ensure that the 2020 general election was conducted freely, fairly, and with integrity. And they identify factors that contributed to the failure of former President Trump and his allies to overturn a democratic outcome: “The legal arguments made by those seeking to overturn election results were generally so extraordinarily weak that they did not have even the veneer of legitimacy. Certain election officials—both Republican and Democratic—refused to buckle under pressure at critical points, placing election integrity and our democracy, ahead of partisanship. And the attack on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, while dangerous, was inept.”


Without new federal legislation strengthening protections for voting rights and preventing election subversion, the attorneys general write, they are concerned that we cannot confidently rely on these factors to protect the will of the voters in future elections.


Several states have passed laws that create new barriers to voting or make it easier to overturn election results. In a statement issued on June 1 of this year, more than 100 democracy scholars explain, “[W]e have watched with deep concern as Republican-led state legislatures across the country have in recent months proposed or implemented what we consider radical changes to core electoral procedures in response to unproven and intentionally destructive allegations of a stolen election.”  They observe that “[s]tatutory changes in large key electoral battleground states are dangerously politicizing the process of electoral administration” and “seeking to restrict access to the ballot.” And they warn, “[T]hese laws politicizing the administration and certification of elections could enable some state legislators or partisan election officials to do what they failed to do in 2020: reverse the outcome of a free and fair election.”


The attorneys general state, “The truths upon which this nation was founded are self-evident. They are not self-executing, however. The profound challenges confronting our democracy demand that Congress act to prevent voter suppression and election subversion. Irrespective of one’s views on the value of the filibuster in general, it must not be allowed to stop Congress from addressing these issues so fundamental to our Constitution and democracy.”


Joining Attorney General Kaul in sending the letter are the attorneys general of California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Iowa, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington.


Read the letter here.