Washington, DC – President Joe Biden signed an executive prioritizing the voting rights of federal inmates and probationers on Sunday.
“Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted,” President Biden declared during the annual Martin and Coretta King Unity Breakfast on March 7, according to The Wall Street Journal. “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.”
In the executive order, the President directed the Attorney General to establish procedures to provide voter registration and voting educational materials to federal inmates and to facilitate voter registration for those in federal custody.
“Such educational materials shall be incorporated into the reentry planning procedures,” the order read.
The Attorney General must also ensure that the U.S. Marshals Service “includes language in intergovernmental agreements and jail contracts to require the jails to provide educational materials related to voter registration and voting, and to facilitate voting by mail, to the extent practicable and appropriate,” according to the order.
Coordinating with the Probation and Pretrial Services Office of the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts to make sure all eligible convicted felons under the supervision of the department are provided with voter registration and voting education “to facilitate voter registration and voting by such individuals” should also a focus of the Attorney General’s Office under President Biden’s order.
The President further tasked the Attorney General with helping find ways “to support formerly incarcerated individuals” with obtaining identification as required by state voter identification laws, according to the order.
“Too many Americans face significant obstacles to exercising their fundamental right to vote. For generations, Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies that suppress their vote,” the fact sheet released along with the executive order read.
“As the President has said, democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to defend, strengthen, and renew it,” the document read. “Free and fair elections that reflect the will of the American people must be protected and defended.”
The executive order also calls for the government’s voting information website to be modernized and improved and seeks to help identify barriers for voters with disabilities, The Wall Street Journal reported.
President Biden further ordered the establishment of a “Native American Voting Rights Steering Group” in order to find ways to increase voter access, education, and turnout in Native American communities.
Meanwhile, Republican lawmakers in several states have been working to increase requirements and restrictions on mail-in or early voting, The Wall Street Journal reported.
White House officials said President Biden’s directive was a means by which he could use his moral authority to send such states a message, even though he cannot force change in state law, according to the paper.
Within the next 200 days, all federal agencies must submit a “strategic plan” to the White House detailing how their departments can help promote voter registration and participation, USA Today reported.