Harris says obstacles to voting rights will have to be surmounted for the 2020 election

In an interview with Errin Haines at the 19th Represents Virtual Summit, Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris said efforts to block voting rights will have to be “jumped over” during this election season.

Video Transcript

- You certainly have been somebody that's been out in the protests during the Black Lives Matter movement that we've seen return this summer with the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. And yet, we see a climate that is racialized and a president that has already kind of returned to a racial playbook headed into November.

We said, you know, during this past year that racism is on the ballot. And for a lot of Americans, Joe Biden has said that this is a battle for the soul of America. What does that mean to you? And how concerned are you about this national reckoning and how it may play out in our election for voters?

KAMALA HARRIS: Yeah, I mean, like you said, Joe says and has been saying this is a battle for the soul of our country. And when we look at someone like the current occupant of the White House-- again, he has not been lifting folks up. Joe and what we are about is about lifting people up, understanding that the strength of a leader is based on not who you beat down, but who you lift up.

And these are the things that are at stake right now. And when we talk about the election in November, this is probably one of most important elections of our lifetime. Literally, this is probably one of the most important elections of our lifetime. This is about everything-- every issue that we discussed, and whether we're going to have a president of the United States who actually works to lift folks up and give you a sense of pride in your country or somebody who is just full-time just beating people down.

And I fear that if we don't correct course, the damage will be irreversible. Everything is on the line in this election-- so many things. And so here's what I'll say about voting, Erin. There are states and there are state legislatures who, especially after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, have put in place laws that have been designed to suppress the vote, and in particular, the black vote, students from voting, indigenous people from voting-- and those obstacles, some of them, we're going to fight against and get rid of before the election. Some of them are still going to be in place.

So here's the thing-- everybody has to remember this, and ask this question of yourself-- why don't they want us to vote? Why don't they want us to vote? Why are they creating obstacles to us voting? Well, the answer is because when we vote, things change. When we vote, things get better. When we vote, we address the disparities we've been talking about. We address the need of all people to be treated with dignity and respect.

These are the things that are on the line in this election. And so we know how to jump over or get around the obstacles that for many of us have been in place since the day we were born. And that's going to be the job ahead of us in the next 80-something days-- to jump over those obstacles and to make sure our voices are heard and counted in this election.