TULSA, Okla. — Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma apologized to Black Tulsans for not realizing that contesting the Electoral College results in swing states would be seen as questioning Black voters' legitimacy.
In December, Lankford announced his support with other GOP senators to create a commission and conduct a 10-day audit reviewing the election results.
In a letter addressed to “My friends in North Tulsa,” Lankford said it was never his intention to disenfranchise any voter or state.
"It was my intention to resolve any outstanding questions before the inauguration on January 20," Lankford wrote. "I believe Congress cannot legally ignore any state’s electors or change any state’s vote, but we can work to get answers to outstanding questions. I want to strengthen the confidence all Americans have in their electoral system so everyone is encouraged to vote and knows their vote matters."
The senator acknowledged that his actions raised concerns among Black Oklahomans.
"But my action of asking for more election information caused a firestorm of suspicion among many of my friends, particularly in Black communities around the state. I was completely blindsided, but I also found a blind spot," Lankford wrote. "What I did not realize was all of the national conversation about states like Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Michigan, was seen as casting doubt on the validity of votes coming out of predominantly Black communities like Atlanta, Philadelphia, and Detroit. After decades of fighting for voting rights, many Black friends in Oklahoma saw this as a direct attack on their right to vote, for their vote to matter, and even a belief that their votes made an election in our country illegitimate."
Lankford continued, "I can assure you, my intent to give a voice to Oklahomans who had questions was never also an intent to diminish the voice of any Black American. As a United States Senator representing almost four million Oklahomans, I am committed to hearing from all Oklahomans, answering questions, and addressing our challenges to strive toward a more perfect union. In this instance, I should have recognized how what I said and what I did could be interpreted by many of you. I deeply regret my blindness to that perception, and for that I am sorry."
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