The 1965 march in Selma, Alabama, for voting rights
President Joe Biden signs an executive order to expand voting rights.
Biden issued the order on the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when police attacked a voting rights march in Selma, Alabama.
The Executive is limited in its scope for action, with many provision reserved for the states. However, the President’s declaration is a significant symbol, with Republicans in state legislatures tabling more than 250 bills to restrict voting.
And the order was issued four days after the House passed the For The People Act, the most important legislation since the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Democrats are hoping to bypass a Republican-threatened filibuster to pass the Act in the Senate.
Biden said on Sunday, in remarks delivered remotely to a unity breakfast in Selma: “We cannot let them succeed. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let more people vote.”
Measures to Improve Voting Access
Biden’s order mandates Federal agencies to offer voter registration opportunities upon the request of a state.
That could encourage a notable rise in registration beyond state efforts. The Indian Health Service covers more than 1.9 million Native Americans and Alaska Natives. The Veterans Affairs Department has a potential reach of almost 20 million voters, and immigration offices could contact more than 760,000 Americans.
The Justice Department will provide people in federal custody and on probation with voter registration information, and will support voting by mail. The Attorney General will establish procedures to help former prisoners obtain necessary identification to cast a ballot.
Agencies will examine improvements in voting access for people with disabilities, Federal employees and military personnel, and Americans overseas. A Native American voting rights steering group will be established, and a plan will be developed to improve the federal website for voting information.