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A group of 16 Republican attorneys general told Attorney General Merrick Garland on Wednesday that he was sowing “distrust” in the American electoral system with his comments criticizing state election integrity laws.

Led by Indiana AG Todd Rokita and West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey, the Republican officials sent a letter to Garland over comments he made in Alabama discussing the Justice Department’s efforts to challenge Red state laws related to voter identification requirements and safeguards on vote-by-mail initiatives.

“The Biden administration is weaponizing the U.S. Department of Justice against the states,” Rokita said in a statement. “These actions pose a direct threat to democracy, election integrity and the rule of law. We will stand up and defend our rightful authority within the framework of American federalism.”

The letter was referring to a speech Garland gave at the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Selma on March 3. At the church, Garland said the DOJ was “challenging efforts by states and jurisdictions to implement discriminatory, burdensome, and unnecessary restrictions on access to the ballot, including those related to mail-in-voting, the use of drop boxes, and voter ID requirements.”

According to the Republicans, these comments threatened the principles of federalism and the separation of powers, as well as the rule of law. Joining Indiana and West Virginia were the attorneys general of Alaska, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah.


“By using the DOJ against the states, you continue to sow the seeds of distrust among the American electorate,” the officials said. “The DOJ has no authority to dictate to the states in matters that concern their sovereign right to ensure safe, secure, and free elections. Although we do not know exactly the strategy the DOJ intends to take with its numerous election attorneys, we intend to vigorously defend our election laws. We will not allow intimidation and fear mongering to supersede the will of the people.”

The Republicans argued that the DOJ’s criticism of voter ID laws didn’t make sense because people were required to provide IDs for voting, driving a car, purchasing alcohol, or boarding an airplane. The letter also pointed to a bipartisan report that came out in 2005 that found that absentee voting could open up the door for fraud, saying that Garland’s criticism of state laws tightening up scrutiny of mail-in-voting was unfounded.

As the DOJ plans to challenge state election laws ahead of the 2024 election, the RNC has filed several suits to make Democratic secretaries of state in Michigan and Nevada clean up their voter rolls and enforce voter ID laws.