EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The White House is taking administrative measures to promote voter participation with new agency steps.
The agencies’ responses are pursuant to calls from President Joe Biden for all-of-government action on registering to vote and opportunities to vote. Biden signed an executive order on March 7,2021 — the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday — to leverage federal resources to benefit voter registration efforts and information.
On Tuesday, more than a dozen agencies spanning the federal government announced steps to be taken that will promote voting access and enhance voting access to eligible voters.
The executive order called for the agencies to submit a strategic plan that outlines the ways the agency can promote nonpartisan voter registration and voter participation.
Key early actions to implement include:
- The Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Service will encourage the executive order’s nonpartisan voter information provision through its borrowers and guaranteed lenders, who have face-to-face interaction with thousands of residents in the process of changing their registered voting address each year.
- Rural agencies will also promote access to voter registration forms and other critical nonpartisan election information
- The Department of Defense will support a comprehensive approach to voting information and awareness for servicemembers and civilian personnel voting at home, in addition to the existing structure that assists military members stationed abroad.
- The DOD will develop materials in different languages and send nonpartisan information at regular intervals before federal elections to make sure eligible voters and their families — especially first time voters — may register and vote
- The Department of Education will create a toolkit of resources and best practices for increasing civic engagement at the elementary, secondary, and higher educational levels that will help more than 67 million students and their families learn about civic engagement opportunities
- The Department will also remind educational institutions about their obligation and also encourage them to identify more opportunities to support eligible student voters
- The General Services Administration will ensure that Vote.gov is a user-friendly portal for voters to access the information they need to register and vote that will be available in 10 languages and also formatted for people living with disabilities
- Federal government agencies will link to vote.gov to encourage voters to participate in the electoral process
- The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living will launch a new voting access hub to connect older voters and people living with disabilities with tools and resources to help them understand and exercise their right to vote
- The Indian Health Service will offer assistance to patients with voter registration
- The President’s Budget requests a 25 percent increase in grants for the Administration for Community Living to distribute to state protection and advocacy systems in order to offer a range of services to ensure people living with disabilities may fully participate in the electoral process
- The Department of Homeland Security will invite state and local governments, as well as nonpartisan nonprofit organizations to register voters at the end of naturalization ceremonies for the hundreds of thousands of citizens who go through the naturalization process each year, and will create a new online resource on voting for newly-naturalized citizens.
- The Department will also provide resource for voters impacted by disaster or emergency events through its training preparedness initiatives
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development will correspond with public housing authorities to provide useful information about ways to inform residents of non-partisan voter registration information and services.
- The Department will also assist relevant HUD-funded service providers by showcasing promising practices that improve non-partisan voting registration and access for people experiencing homelessness
- The Institute of Museum and Library services will create a toolkit of resources and best practices for libraries, museums, and heritage/ cultural institutions may use to promote civic engagement and participation in the voting process
- The Department of the Interior will disburse registration and voting information at its on-site events, at schools run by the Bureau of Indian Education and Tribal Colleges and Universities
- The Department will also offer Tribal College and University campuses for designation by states as voter registration agencies, where possible, under the National Voter Registration Act
- The Department of Justice created an online resource to provide links to state-specific information about registering and voting that will detail the Department’s enforcement process related to federal voting rights
- The Department will also provide voting information to those in federal custody, as well as offering educational opportunities before reentry about voting rules and rights
- The Department of Labor will issue guidance that encourages states to designate American Job Centers as voter registration agencies under the National Voter Registration Act.
- The Department will continue to require Job Corps centers to complement procedures for enrollees to vote and serve as polling places where permitted
- The Department will also provide guidance for grantees to use federal workforce development funding to conduct non-partisan voter registration efforts with participants
- The Department of Transportation will communicate transit system guidance to consider providing free and reduced fare service on election days, and consider placing voter registration materials in high-transit areas.
- The Department will also work with state and local entities seeking to alleviate traffic and construction impacts on routes to the polls, especially for underserved communities
- The Department of the Treasury will include voter registration and participation information in its direct deposit campaigns for Americans who receive Social Security, Veterans Affairs, and other federal benefit payments.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide materials and assistance in registering and voting inpatients and residents that include CAM Medical Center inpatients and residents of VA nursing homes and treatment centers for veterans who are homeless.
- The Department will also facilitate assistance for homebound veterans and their caregivers with registering and voting through the VA’s home-based and telehealth teams.