President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sunday calling on federal agencies to expand voting access as part of his administration’s efforts “to promote and defend the right to vote for all Americans who are legally entitled to participate in elections.”
“It is the responsibility of the federal government to expand access to, and education about, voter registration and election information, and to combat misinformation, in order to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy,” the order read.
Biden announced the order in virtual remarks played before the Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast, which commemorates the 1965 “Bloody Sunday” crossing of the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, where Black demonstrators fighting for access to the ballot box were beaten by police along their march.
The order comes days after the House passed HR1, a wide-ranging package of electoral and ethics reforms that Biden said he would sign into law should it make it through the Senate. It also comes as Republican legislatures across the country seek to enact more restrictive voting measures after former President Donald Trump’s defeat.
In his remarks Sunday, Biden called those GOP efforts “an all-out assault on the right to vote.”
“During the current legislative session, elected officials in 43 states have already introduced more than 250 bills to make it harder for Americans to vote,” he said. “We cannot let them succeed.”
Biden called HR1 “a landmark piece of legislation that is urgently needed to protect the right to vote, the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy.”
“I hope the Senate does its work so that I can sign it into law,” he continued. “I also urge Congress to fully restore the Voting Rights Act, named in John Lewis’ honor.”
“Let the people vote,” he added.
Biden’s action calls on federal agencies to “consider ways to expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process,” make it easier for federal employees to vote by providing recommendations on how to “expand the federal government’s policy of granting employees time off to vote in federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial elections,” and increase access to the ballot for voters with disabilities, Native Americans, active-duty military service-members, overseas Americans and eligible federal prisoners.
HR1 remains Democrats’ greatest hope for securing increased voter protections, however, and, as the official said, the Biden administration lacks the jurisdiction to override restrictive voting measures put in place at the state level.