President Joe Biden is pressuring the Democrat-controlled Congress to reimplement more federal oversight of elections in defiance of a 2013 Supreme Court ruling striking down provisions of the Voting Rights Act.
“In 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, holding that times have changed and blatant voter discrimination was rare, contrary to the assault that was taking place on the ground,” Biden plans to say at the Martin & Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast on Sunday, according to The Hill.
“The late Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg wrote that the decision was like ‘throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm.’ Today, we have a hail storm, not a rainstorm,” he will add.
The president also plans to mention the historic voter turnout during the 2020 elections during the pandemic, though a historic number of Americans voted by mail thanks to changes by secretaries of state and courts dramatically expanding mail-in balloting.
He will also claim that the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol Building was designed to overturn election results, as well as discuss changes some states are making to voting laws.
The breakfast marks the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday — when state troopers in Democrat-run Alabama beat and tear-gassed civil rights protesters on the Edmund Pettus Bridge near Selma in 1965.
The Voting Rights Act was the result of that incident and was attributed to the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who suffered skull fractures during the assault. Then-President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the measure into law in August of that year.
“A few days before he passed, Jill and I spoke with John, Congressman Lewis. But instead of answering our concerns about him, ‘how are you doing, John,’ he asked us to stay focused on the work left undone to heal and to unite this nation around what it means to be an American,” Biden will say. “That’s the God’s truth. John wouldn’t talk about his pending death or his concerns. He said we just got to get this done.”
In addition, Biden is planning to sign an executive order “leveraging federal resources to protect and strengthen access to the ballot,” The Hill reported separately, as GOP legislatures attempt to reverse what many Republicans say were unconstitutional expansions of voting rules ahead of the November election.
The order “will direct agencies to increase access to voter registration materials and reduce barriers to voting for certain groups, including military and overseas voters, Native Americans and people with disabilities,” The Hill reported.
At the breakfast, Biden will say, “Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have it counted. If you have the best ideas — you have nothing to hide. Let more people vote.”
The order directs federal agencies to share voter registration information via their websites and social media accounts, as well as send out vote-by-mail applications.
It also calls for modernizing the Vote.gov website, which is the federal government t’s official voter registration site and sets up a group to focus on voting rights for Native Americans. In addition, the order “focuses on strengthening voter access for specific groups more likely to face obstacles to voting,” The Hill reported.
Administration officials defended the order, which will become one of the unprecedented dozens of earlier actions signed by Biden during his first weeks in office.
“The president is using his voice, his authority to make clear his view that people should choose through voting what they want and should be able to vote on the best ideas, and that it is not democratic to discourage access to the vote,” one administration official told the outlet.
The Hill reported that more than 250 pieces of legislation have been introduced in 43 states to alter voting rules and laws in the wake of last fall’s post-election controversies.
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