The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative—the foremost diverse coalition of national racial justice and civil rights organizations representing and serving more than 53 million people in the United States—applauds President Joseph R. Biden’s recent executive action to make it easier for Americans to register to vote.
Signed on the 56th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, the new Biden executive order requiring federal agencies to submit plans to help facilitate voter registration invokes the legacy of the 600 activists, including the late Congressman John Lewis, who were attacked by law enforcement as they attempted to march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to protest for the right to vote.
The Anchor Collaborative commends this executive order’s commitment to promoting equitable access to voter education and registration while centering Indigenous voting rights and ensuring those in federal custody have ample information to exercise their right to vote, where possible.
It is, however, just a first step in the pursuit of a vision of democracy that honors and protects every American’s right to vote. The Collaborative calls upon President Biden to ensure that federal agencies act aggressively to achieve the aims of the EO. We further call upon Congress to continue the fight to eliminate barriers to voting by affirmative voting acts, and a modern Native American Voting Rights Act.
In order for our Democracy to remain reflective of and responsive to all of its citizens, it is imperative that federal agencies and Congress work to ensure:
- voter registration gaps, particularly for voters of color and young voters, are closed;
- voter outreach and education campaigns are robust, accessible, in-language and multicultural;
- the path to voting is unobstructed, centering the lived experiences of historically marginalized and disenfranchised voters of color;
- pro-voter measures including those restoring federal oversight of state elections, as codified in H.R. 1 and H.R. 4, are implemented to thwart the implementation of discriminatory voting measures.
Barriers to the ballot, far from being bygone relics of our history, are indeed alive and well in 2021. The Anchor Collaborative’s November 2019 report, “We Vote, We Count: The Need for Congressional Action to Secure the Right to Vote For All Citizens,” uses the voices of voters of color to highlight numerous contemporary barriers preventing free and clear access to voting. We now call on the Biden administration to follow steps for robust implementation of this order to fulfill his promise of ensuring that registering to vote and voting are simple and easy for all eligible voters, and to develop clear metrics on voter registration, voter intimidation, language access, and turnout among voters of color.
The Racial Equity Anchor Collaborative includes the following leading national racial equity anchor organizations (the Anchors): Advancement Project National Office, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Demos, Faith in Action, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, National Congress of American Indians, National Urban League, Race Forward, and UnidosUS. Supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we work together to promote racial equity, advance racial healing, and ensure that all children, families, and communities have opportunities to reach their full potential.