Merrick Garland vows to aggressively defend voting rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Justice Department will prosecute threats against election officials and aggressively scrutinize new state election laws to ensure they do not violate citizens' voting rights, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said on Friday.

Garland said voting rights will be a top priority for the Justice Department at a time when many Republican-led states are tightening voting laws in a manner that critics say will make it harder for Black and Hispanic voters to participate.

Garland said he would double the number of prosecutors devoted to voting-rights enforcement and closely examine how states conduct their elections.

"There are many things that are open to debate in America but the right of all eligible citizens to vote is not one of them," Garland said in a speech at the Justice Department.

(Reporting by Andy Sullivan and Jan Wolfe; Editing by Alistair Bell)