Feb 27, 2024 - Politics & Policy

VP Harris to announce Biden team's plans to boost voting access

Vice President Kamala Harris

Photo: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Biden administration is partnering with voting rights groups to try to boost turnout among key voting blocs this November, in what officials say is a move to counter GOP efforts to restrict voting.

Why it matters: The move comes as House Republicans are refusing to consider measures to improve voting access pushed by Democrats — and after conservative state lawmakers nationwide introduced more than 300 bills last year that included voting restrictions.

  • Vice President Kamala Harris is announcing the plan Tuesday.
  • "The president and vice president are doing everything they can to protect democracy, including by calling on all of the federal agencies to do what they can to protect the right to vote," said Erica Songer, counsel to the vice president.

Zoom in: The Democratic plan includes a call to reinforce the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which has been weakened by recent Supreme Court decisions. Harris also is announcing new strategies that federal agencies will use to encourage millions of Americans to vote in November.

  • The Department of Health and Human Services will email voter registration information to every person — more than 20 million last year — who signs up for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
  • Signage highlighting Vote.gov will now be visible to the 6 million people who visit the Social Security Administration's more than 1,200 offices each year.
  • The Department of Interior will display Vote.gov signage in national park entrances and visitor centers across the country.
  • Voter registration information is now available in nearly 20 languages, including Chinese, Arabic and Navajo — up from just English and Spanish when President Biden and Harris were elected in 2020.

Between the lines: Harris is hosting a roundtable discussion Tuesday with representatives from more than 20 voting rights groups, to go over strategies for getting more information to voters.

  • Harris is asking the groups to promote voting on three national days of action: Juneteenth, the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act (Aug. 6) and National Voter Registration Day (Sept. 24 this year).
  • In a meeting with the groups last month, one key issue on the table was ongoing threats to the safety of election workers, which have led many volunteers to quit.
  • Harris will announce that the Department of Justice has held more than 100 events where local officials were trained how to protect election workers.

What to watch: The administration will allow federal employees to take off work on Election Day (Nov. 5) to vote, or to vote early on another day.

  • Some private employers have a similar policy, and the administration hopes that more will follow suit.
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