Biden’s executive order on voting rights pushes movement forward

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The 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, a pivotal moment in history on the road to the Voting Rights Act of 1965, has the White House focused on voter protections and registration in an all-out effort to protect the right to vote. President Joe Biden signed an executive order that directs all government agencies to tackle the ever-growing complexities of voting in this country on Sunday. 

The most recent executive order works to create ease in voter registration by making federal departments part of the process.  Another aspect of President Biden’s plan updates vote.gov to make it more of a prominent landing spot for reliable voter information. With this shift the administration takes aim at  voting misinformation.  

Another component of this order creates a Native American Voting Rights Steering Committee to increase voter participation within the community. During the recent elections, targeted voter suppression tactics compromised the Native American vote by prohibiting their participation if they did not have a physical address to use when registering to vote. Many Native Americans live on reservations that don’t offer a typical street address. 

Biden’s executive order comes after a fierce fight for the Oval Office in 2020, which featured pervasive voter suppression tactics by then-President Donald Trump, who supported falsehoods in his efforts to win at any cost.  

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Last year, the tactics to suppress the vote included creating fake voter collection boxes and fake voter information forms giving voters wrong information about balloting.  

Compounding the issue, there are now 43 states of mostly Republican legislatures proposing restrictive voting laws with over 250 bills presented. Each state handles its own voting process.  Some of those restrictive voter bills include voter identification laws, prohibiting ex felons from going to the polls and restricting certain days for voting —like Sundays. 

Another issue not included in Biden’s executive order, is the function of the United States Postal Service (USPS). President Biden cannot fire the head of the postal service who was appointed by then President Trump. The current Postmaster General changed the postal sorting system months before the presidential election, delaying mail service that people depended on for things like medicine, money, bills and other correspondences. The postal change removed mailboxes from street corners, which put another stumbling block into the ease of early voting for ballot drop off. 

Sources inside the White House say three Biden-nominated postal service board members that have to be confirmed by the Senate stand to make a difference at the USPS.

A sign in an Atlanta neighborhood on Friday, Dec. 11, 2020, urges people to vote early in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate races. (AP Photo/Jeff Amy)

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Overall, the Biden administration is hopeful their efforts will bring more people to the voting process. The White House is using US Census data from 2018 that shows 76 million eligible Americans did not register to vote. 

The issue of voting rights is also a priority on the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. The For the People Act, also known as H.R. 1 has the support of President Biden. That bill also incorporates the John Lewis Voting Rights Act into its legislative language. 

H.R. 1, if passed in the Senate and signed into law, will make critical reforms across three key areas — improving voter access, promoting integrity in the process, and ensuring security for the voting systems. 

There is also H.R. 4, which has not yet been reintroduced, that deals with the Supreme Court decision of Shelby vs Holder, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965’s preclearance for certain Southern states.  As a result, some Southern states no longer were required to seek approval from the Justice Department for any changes to their voting process.  

Today, with the pervasive attempt at voter suppression and irregularities across the country, the President is in support of efforts to create consistent voting rights across the country.

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