U.S. Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez, one of several candidates running to lead the Democratic National Committee, said Monday he would use the position to expand the party’s efforts to protect voters in the wake of ballot laws cropping up across the country. The Takoma Park resident, a former Montgomery County and Maryland state official, said the national party needs to take a more active role to ensure voters can cast a ballot, coordinating responses from state and national leaders and “playing offense” by expanding voter registration in every state. “We are going to establish a very robust protection and empowerment effort,” Perez told The Baltimore Sun on Monday, a day before he was to address the Maryland Democratic Party. “The DNC needs to play a very important role in combating [suppression] and ensuring all eligible voters can vote.”
Perez, 55, is one of a half-dozen candidates hoping to rebuild the party after Hillary Clinton’s upset loss to Republican Donald Trump in November’s presidential election.
That defeat has forced the party to examine what went wrong and prompted a debate about how best to move forward.
When Perez was head of the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, he moved to block voter ID laws in Texas and South Carolina. He declined Monday to offer details of his plans on the issue for the party, but aides said a more formal announcement will come soon.