Democracy Protection & Voting Rights

Voting is a fundamental right in our democracy, and for decades, was protected by the landmark Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, the Supreme Court gutted VRA in Shelby County v. Holder in 2013, and further weakened the law’s protec­tions in Brnovich v. DNC (2022). Today, the GOP’s assault on our democracy continues. Republican leaders have openly admitted that if everyone can vote, they will never win a national election. The Federalist Society even recently published an article warning that there is a movement to elect presidents by – gasp! – the popular vote through the National Popular Vote Pact. The GOP has also introduced over 400 bills in 49 states to suppress voting and enacted 19 restrictive voting laws in 2021. Upshot: We need more Democratic senators and to hold the House if we are going to protect our democracy.

 

What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?

 

  • Passed the For the People Act in the House, a voting rights bill which made it easier to vote, exposed dark money, combatted gerrymandering, and modernized election equipment. (Blocked by Senate Republicans.)
  • Passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (JLVRAA) in the House which would restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) after it was gutted by the Supreme Court in 2013. (Blocked by Senate Republicans.)
  • Increased accessibility of voter registration services by enlisting more than 12 federal agencies to promote voting access and democratic participation among a wide range of voters.
  • Provided voter education to more than 67 million students and their families.
  • Improved online voter information.
  • Issued guidance to transit systems to provide free and reduced fare public transit to help get voters to the polls.
  • Increased voter outreach in public housing, job centers and federal workforces.
  • Enforced and protected voting rights through: Department of Justice enforcement actions;  partnering with civil rights organizations and community leaders to protect voting rights; and creating an online resource to the public, Justice.gov/voting, which provides information to the public on state-specific registration, voting guidelines, and how to report potential voting rights violations.

What Have the Biden-Harris Administration and Dems Done?

Legislation

    • Passed the For the People Act in the House. This was a massive voting rights bill that sought to make it easier to vote, expose dark money, combat gerrymandering, and modernize election equipment. (Blocked by Senate Republicans.)
    • Passed the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (JLVRAA) in the House which would restore and revital­ize the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA). (Blocked by Senate Republicans.)  JLVRAA:
        • Would restore the pre-clearance formula (struck down by Shelby) from the VRA which requires juris­dic­tions with a history of voting discrim­in­a­tion to get approval from DOJ or a federal court in DC before chan­ging their voting laws or prac­tices to ensure the changes are not discrim­in­at­ory.
        • Would also strengthen VRA provisions to prevent voter dilution, denial and discrimination as well as expand enforcement.
        • Included the Native Amer­ican Voting Rights Act which protects the right of Native Amer­ic­ans to vote.

Executive and Agency Actions

Expanded Voter Registration and Access

      • Increased accessibility of voter registration services. In response to President Biden’s EO, more than 12 federal agencies have announced initiatives to promote voting access and democratic participation.
          • For rural voters. The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service will provide nonpartisan voting information to thousands of residents. Rural Development agencies (where rural residents can apply for housing, facilities, or business assistance) will also provide access to voter registration forms and relevant election information to patrons.
          • For military voters. The Department of Defense will facilitate voting awareness amongst personnel and develop nonpartisan informational materials in additional languages before federal elections to ensure eligible service members and their families have the opportunities to register and vote.
          • For veteran voters. The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide materials and assistance in registering and voting for thousands of VA hospital, treatment center, and nursing home inpatients and residents. It will also facilitate assistance in registering and voting for homebound veterans and their caregivers through VA’s home-based and telehealth teams.
          • For older voters and voters with disabilities. The Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living will launch voting access hubs to connect older Americans and people with disabilities to information, tools, and resources to help them understand and exercise their right to vote.
          • For Native American voters. The Department of the Interior will disseminate information on registering and voting schools to 30,00 students in schools operated by the Bureau of Indian Education and Tribal Colleges and Universities. Where possible, the DOI will offer these universities to be designated as “voter registration agencies” under the National Voter Registration Act. The Indian Health Service will also offer patients assistance with voter registration.
          • For new citizen voters. The Department of Homeland Security will invite state and municipal governments and organizations to register voters after naturalization ceremonies, and develop new online resources on voting for recently naturalized citizens. The DHS will also provide information and resources for voters impacted by natural disasters through its’ training preparedness initiatives.
          • For incarcerated voters. The Department of Justice will provide voting information to individuals in federal custody, facilitate voting amongst those eligible to do so while in federal custody, and educate individuals about voting rules and voting rights in their states before re-entry.
          • For Americans receiving federal benefits. The Department of the Treasury will include information about registration and voter participation in direct deposit campaigns for Americans receiving Social Security or other federal benefit payments.

Expanded Voter Education Initiatives

        • Providing voter education. The Department of Education has prepared resources and strategies for increasing civic engagement at the elementary school, secondary school, and higher education level for more than 67 million students and their families. The Dept. of Ed will also remind educational institutions of their obligations to and encourage institutions to expand their opportunities to assist eligible students with voter registration.
        • Improved online voter information. The General Services Administration has ensured that Vote.Gov is a user-friendly portal for Americans to find the information they need to register and vote. It includes over ten languages and formats accessible for voters with disabilities.
        • Issued guidance to public transit agencies to provide free and reduced fare public transit to help get voters to the polls. The Department of Transportation issued guidance to transit systems — including more than 1150 rural and 1000 urban public transit systems — to consider providing free and reduced fare services on election days and consider placing voter registration material in high-transit stations. The DOT is also working with state and local entities to mitigate traffic and construction impacts on routes to the polls, particularly in underserved communities.
        • Increased voter outreach in public housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development has communicated with more than 3000 public housing authorities on permissible ways to provide residents with nonpartisan voter registration information and services. HUD has also assisted HUD-funded service providers highlight and share practices to improve nonpartisan voter registration and voting access for unhoused individuals.
        • Increased voter outreach in job centers. The Department of Labor has issued guidance encouraging states to designate more than 2400 American Job Centers as voter registration agencies under the National Voter Registration Act.
        • Increased voter outreach in federal workforces. The Department of Labor has provided guidance allowing grant-recipients to use federal workforce development funding to conduct nonpartisan voter registration efforts.

Protecting Voting Rights 

        • Enforced voting rights through legal action. The Department of Justice (DOJ) continues to take legal actions to enforce voting rights across the country.
        • Provided voting rights information to Americans. DOJ created an online resource, Justice.gov/voting, for the public providing information on state-specific registration and voting guidelines, how the DOJ enforces federal voting rights, and how to report potential voting rights violations.
        • Partnered with civil rights organizations and community leaders to protect the right to vote. The Biden-Harris Administration has partnered with civil rights organizations, businesses, faith-leaders, young Americans, and other activists to protect the right to vote and uphold democratic values.

LAST UPDATED ON SEPTEMBER 20TH, 2022