Joe Biden on Sunday signed an executive order to strengthen voter registration, days after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives passed voting rights legislation to counter Republican efforts to restrict access to the ballot box in several states.
Biden’s unilateral action forces federal agencies to promote voter registration and participation, and to work with states to help register voters.
The order also directs federal authorities to overhaul the vote.gov website, ensure federal employees have free time to vote or volunteer as scrutineers, and provide more resources to ensure that persons with disabilities, active duty military and other voters abroad, and Native Americans have the opportunity to register to vote.
This is the latest attempt by Democrats to counter Republican efforts to crack down on early voting, postal voting and other voting practices after Donald Trump refused to accept the November election results and falsely claimed, on several occasions, that the ballots had been “rigged”. against him.
“The legacy of the march to Selma is that if nothing can prevent a free people from exercising their most sacred power as citizens, there are those who will do all they can to take that power away from them.” Biden said in remarks recorded on Sunday. .
“Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide, ”he added.
But Biden’s order underscores how little the president can do on his own, and how the political battle over voting rights will unfold on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures.
According to the Brennan Center for Justice, state lawmakers this year introduced more than 250 bills containing provisions that would restrict access to the vote in 43 states. Among them is a bill in the main swing state of Georgia that would ban early voting on Sundays, a move critics say is a thinly veiled attack on African-American voters who have historically voted through events. related to the Church.
Bil housel Includes provisions for automatic voter registration, a requirement that states guarantee a window for early voting and allow postal ballots, and the reinstatement of the right to vote for felons who have served their sentence.
But he’s likely to block the US Senate, which Democrats control by the tiniest of margins. The upper house of Congress is split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to vote for a tiebreaker. However, under the obscure rules of Senate filibustering, debate on most laws – including voting and election laws – needs the support of 60 senators, which is unlikely in Congress. current.
Progressive activists and Democratic lawmakers have rallied in recent weeks for Democratic senators to consider removing filibuster completely, which can be done with a simple majority vote. Biden, who spent 36 years in the Senate before becoming Barack Obama’s vice president, has remained lukewarm on the issue of filibuster, having championed the rule for decades.
Biden announced the voting access decree on Sunday at an event commemorating the 56th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday,’ when state soldiers beat and gassed hundreds of civil rights protesters in Selma, Alabama, including John Lewis. Lewis, who died last year, has become a leading voice in the civil rights movement and a longtime Democratic congressman from Georgia.
In 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down key parts of the Voting Rights Act, a landmark law signed by Lyndon B Johnson in the wake of Bloody Sunday. Democrats, including Biden, have called for the law to be restored on Lewis’s behalf.