AOC says the notion that activists can ‘out-organize’ voter suppression is ‘a ridiculous premise’ that ‘verges on naïveté’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez appearing on CNN's 'State of the Union'
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday that the idea of ‘out-organizing’ voter suppression ‘verges on naïveté’ Screenshot via CNN/’State of the Union’
  • AOC is joining progressives criticizing the notion that voter suppression can be out-organized.
  • Ocasio-Cortez told CNN that the notion “verges on naïveté” and is a “ridiculous premise.”
  • The Times reported that White House officials believe organizing can overcome restrictive voting rules.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said the notion that grassroots organizing alone can combat voter suppression “verges on naïveté” and is a “ridiculous premise” in a Sunday interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Ocasio-Cortez was responding to a New York Times report published July 23 which detailed the tension between the Biden White House and civil rights activists over voting rights issues. The Times reported that in “private calls” with activists, White House officials and close allies of the president have expressed confidence that it is possible to ‘out-organize voter suppression.'”

The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein similarly reported in late May that White House officials believe “there are work-arounds to some of these provisions” on voting through organizing, with one official saying: “show us what the rules are and we will figure out a way to educate our voters and make sure they understand how they can vote and we will get them out to vote.”

“I appreciate the White House’s optimism, but I believe it verges on naïveté,” Ocasio-Cortez told CNN’s Jake Tapper. “It already took unprecedented, historic organizing to overcome the historic voter suppression efforts in 2020 and we barely squeaked through on the majorities and the White House election that we had.”

Ocasio-Cortez also referenced the emerging threat of GOP-backed election subversion in the states, noting that no amount of organizing can stop partisan interference in the counting of votes.

“Even if we are successful in ‘out organizing voter suppression, which is a ridiculous premise on its face, Republicans are already laying the groundwork in installing state-level attorney generals and beyond to overturn the results of any state election that they frankly do not like in states where they have taken power,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

A June update to a report from Protect Democracy, States United Democracy Center, and Law Forward identified 24 laws passed and enacted in 14 GOP-controlled states that criminalize aspects of the election administration process and give partisan officials more control over how elections are conducted and certified. That’s in addition to GOP lawmakers pursuing dubious “audits” and recounts of already-certified elections in states like Arizona and Pennsylvania.

“Even if you are successful in out-organizing, they are laying the groundwork to not even certify the results of the election. They are holding, essentially dress rehearsals in states like Arizona in order to do that. And I think we should be extremely alarmed,” Ocasio-Cortez added.

Ocasio-Cortez is joining a growing chorus of progressive voices criticizing President Joe Biden’s White House for not pushing forcefully enough for voting rights protections.

Ocasio-Cortez previously tweeted that “communities cannot ‘out-organize’ voter suppression when those they organize to elect won’t protect the vote.& Even if they DO out-organize, the ground is being set to overturn results. The time to fight like hell for democracy is right now. We may not get another chance.”

Many activists are frustrated that Biden, who has called new GOP election laws “Jim Crow on steroids” and described them as the biggest challenge American democracy has faced since the Civil War, isn’t calling for reforms of the Senate filibuster to pass voting rights legislation.

The current Senate filibuster rules require 60 votes to debate and pass most legislation. In late June, Senate Republicans filibustered the For The People Act, or S. 1, Democrats’ sweeping voting rights legislation. Senate Democrats are now drawing up a revised, more narrowly-tailored version of the bill focused on voting rights.

House Democrats are also preparing the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, which would restore a key provision of the Voting Rights Act that the Supreme Court struck down in 2013 in the Shelby v. Holder case.

Biden continued to reject the idea of nixing the filibuster in a July 21 CNN town hall, saying that getting rid of it would “throw the entire Congress into chaos and nothing will get done.”