US President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Sunday aimed at promoting access to voting. It was passed on the 56th anniversary of a famous march known as “Bloody Sunday,” during which “state troopers beat and tear-gassed hundreds of peaceful protesters crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama. The protesters were seeking justice and to ensure their right to vote would not be denied.”
The executive order explains the importance of promoting voter access:
The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy. Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended. But many Americans, especially people of color, confront significant obstacles to exercising that fundamental right. These obstacles include difficulties with voter registration, lack of election information, and barriers to access at polling places.
The order creates a Native American Voting Rights Steering Group that is to consult with “Tribal Nations and Native leaders” to identify areas of concern and focus that will result in a report with recommendations for things like increasing voter outreach and education registration, mitigating barriers to Native Americans voting, and increasing language access and assistance.
It also aims to ensure access to voter registration for certain people in federal custody, those who are active-duty military and overseas citizens, those who have a disability, and those who are employed. The facilitation of employee voting will occur through the government acting as a “model employer by encouraging and facilitating Federal employees’ civic participation.” The order calls for the modernization of Vote.gov and general expanded access to voter registration and election information.
The order calls for the head of each agency to submit a plan within 200 days of the order for promoting voter registration and participation.
Thus far, Biden has signed more than 30 executive orders. This one comes amidst legislative efforts to reform voting laws from both parties.