By: SEAN HANRAHAN
President Biden signed an executive order on Sunday that will expand voting access across the country. The order comes as Republicans and Democrats have been battling on voting rights and voting security following the controversy of the 2020 Presidential Election.
The Executive Order gives the heads of all federal agencies 200 days to prepare a plan to “promote voter registration and participation”, according to Politico. They then will be required to inform states of the assistance they can provide regarding voting and registration, and bettering access to military voters and voters with disabilities. Additionally, the order also directs the Federal Government to update and re-design the voting information website Vote.gov. This Executive Order was signed on Bloody Sunday, the 56th anniversary of the march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama. The President honored former Representative John Lewis of Georgia and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, progressive figures who were known for supporting expansion of voting access, and who passed away last year. In pre-recorded remarks, Biden also said, “The legacy of the march in Selma is that while nothing can stop a free people from exercising their most sacred power as a citizen, there are those who will do everything they can to take that power away.”
The Biden Administration acknowledged that they lack constitutional authority to make most Democrats’ hopeful election reform, which is why H.R.1, a massive voting rights expansion bill, is currently in the Senate after being passed by the House. The bill would require states to offer same-day voter registration, hold early-voting for at least 15 days, would establish automatic voter registration, expand vote by mail, and make Election Day a federal holiday. Furthermore, H.R.1 includes a section that allows felons who have completed their prison sentences to vote in elections. However, since Senate Republicans have voiced their opposition to this bill, it is unlikely to receive the 60 votes needed to pass in the event of a GOP filibuster.