United States President Joe Biden speaks during a non-partisan meeting on cancer legislation in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington March 3, 2021.
Alex Brandon | Pool | Reuters
President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sunday designed to help ensure that all Americans have the right to vote by improving access to voter registration services and information.
Biden also called on Congress to restore the suffrage law, which was signed in 1965 after a violent protest in Selma, Alabama, in which some participants were injured.
The late Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., Who was one of the activists who led the march, suffered a fractured skull. Lewis passed away last year.
Biden’s executive order coincides with the 56th anniversary of this protest, known as Bloody Sunday.
“Today, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I am signing an executive order to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and to improve access to voting,” Biden said in prepared remarks.
“Every voter should be able to vote and let that vote count. When you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let people vote.”
Biden’s Executive Order is a “first step,” according to the White House. The president plans to work with Congress to restore the suffrage law, which removes discriminatory practices such as the requirement of literacy tests to vote.
“I also urge Congress to fully restore the voting law named in honor of John Lewis,” said Biden.
In 2013, the Supreme Court invalidated a key plank of the law that required 9 states with a history of discrimination, mainly in the South, to obtain federal approval to amend their electoral laws.
Rep. John Lewis in Selma, Alabama on February 14, 2015.
Bill Clark | CQ appeal | Getty Images
Biden also plans to work with lawmakers to pass the For the People Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives last week. It contains additional reforms to make voting “fair and accessible”.
“This is a legislative milestone that is badly needed to protect the right to vote and the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy,” said Biden.
Biden’s executive order aims to take first steps to make the polls more accessible to blacks and other minority voters, including Indians and people with disabilities.
It also calls for initiatives to improve access to choice for federal employees, active service members and other overseas voters, as well as Americans in federal prison.
The executive order directs federal agencies to improve voter access to registration and information about elections online, as well as more regular distribution of votes by mail and voter registration requests.
The Executive Ordinance also calls on federal agencies to better coordinate with state governments on voter registration and to update the Vote.gov website.