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Civil Rights Coalition Releases Report Highlighting Federal Agency Progress and Gaps on Voting Access, Urges the Biden-Harris Administration to Finish the Job

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For Immediate Release:                                                                                         March 2, 2023

 

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Civil Rights Coalition Releases Report Highlighting Federal Agency Progress and Gaps on Voting Access, Urges the Biden-Harris Administration to Finish the Job
Full implementation of President Biden’s executive order could result in 3.5 million additional voter registrations per year

Washington, D.C. – Today, a diverse coalition of 53 health, racial justice, environmental, labor, immigration, faith-based, disability rights, education, LGBTQ+, housing, justice reform, and voting and civil rights organizations published a new report – Strengthening Democracy: A Progress Report on Federal Agency Action to Promote Access to Voting – which assesses how federal agencies have responded to President Biden’s 2021 executive order to increase access to voting. In an era of heightened barriers to the ballot across the nation, the report estimates that robust implementation of the President’s directive to increase voting access across ten federal agencies could result in 3.5 million additional voter registrations per year.

The report comes ahead of the 58th anniversary of the “Bloody Sunday” assault on peaceful civil rights advocates in Selma, Alabama, which galvanized the push for voting rights protections, and two years after President Biden issued a visionary executive order (Voting Access Executive Order) on promoting voting access throughout the federal government.  

Three agencies in particular – the Department of Interior, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Treasury – are identified in the report as on the right track to complete implementation and fully integrate voter registration services into their everyday interactions with the public.

Despite the progress made at these agencies, a significant number of important departments have not kept pace in their progress to implement the Voting Access Executive Order. The report urges the Biden-Harris Administration to follow through on its vision and leadership in issuing the EO and urges the agencies to fully implement its mandates. It makes specific recommendations for what executive branch agencies that still have work to do or are falling behind should do:

  • Department of Health and Human Services: Integrate a fully operational voter registration opportunity into the Healthcare.gov application by the Fall 2023 open enrollment period, and launch a previously promised voting information hub that older adults and people with disabilities can access.
  • General Services Administration: Ensure Vote.gov is a user-friendly and accessible resource for all voters, regardless of disability status, language, conviction history, and geography. 
  • U.S. Marshals Service, Department of Justice: Ensure all eligible individuals in federal pre-trial custody have access to high quality voter registration services and assistance voting, and leverage its contracts with state and private jail facilities to ensure ballot access for all eligible voters, not just those in federal custody. 
  • Bureau of Prisons, Department of Justice: Ensure all eligible individuals incarcerated in federal facilities across the country can access voting registration and services by the end of this year, as well as ensure that high-quality information about voting rights is consistently provided during incarceration and upon release.
  • Indian Health Services, Department of Health and Human Services: Provide high-quality voter registration services, including assistance, at Indian Health Services facilities, and work with interested tribes to support the integration of voter registration opportunities at health facilities run by tribes.
  • Department of Education: Improve voter registration opportunities for students at institutions of higher learning, including adding voter registration opportunities to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid Student Aid Report.
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of Homeland Security: Ensure all new citizens have access to high-quality voter registration services at or immediately after all naturalization ceremonies. 

In addition to the report, nearly 100 stakeholder organizations representing millions of voters and potential voters, urged in a letter to the Biden-Harris Administration to hasten the pace at which agencies implement and operationalize the executive order. With less than two years before the end of this term, time is of the essence. It’s imperative that the administration fulfill the opportunity they have created to implement a whole-of-government approach to promoting voter registration and access to voting, 

Additional Resources:

Read the full report, Strengthening Democracy: A Progress Report on Federal Agency Action to Promote Access to Voting, here.

 

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