WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Taifa Smith Butler, President of Dēmos, a think tank fighting for a just, inclusive and multiracial democracy, issued the following statement on the 58th anniversary of ‘Bloody Sunday’ and the second anniversary of President Biden’s Voting Rights Access Executive Order. Dēmos helped lead a coalition of over 50 voting and civil rights organizations that released a new report – Strengthening Democracy: A Progress Report on Federal Agency Action to Promote Access to Voting, outlining needed improvements in federal agency implementation of the president’s executive order.
“On the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, we honor the sacrifice and determination of those who marched, fought and endured police violence in Selma, Alabama in 1965, including the late Congressman John Lewis. While the country won a tremendous victory as a direct result of their efforts - the Voting Rights Act of 1965 - today, voting rights and democracy itself remain under attack at every level of our government. Some of the main agitators are elected leaders sworn to protect and ensure access to our political institutions for all people.
“Two years ago, President Biden released the Voting Rights Access Executive Order, requesting federal agencies take steps to expand voter registration opportunities for eligible Americans. We applaud the President using his authority through executive action and updated guidance for agencies to encourage strong implementation of the Voting Rights Access EO. While we still need to pass comprehensive federal voting rights legislation, robust implementation of the Voting Rights Access EO could lead to an additional 3.5 million voter registration applications each year.
“Federal agencies are a valuable, yet untapped, resource for expanding voter access.
Federal agencies are a valuable, yet untapped, resource for expanding voter access.
The agencies evaluated in the Strengthening Democracy report interact with millions of Americans every year, from administering benefits, to admitting new citizens, and more. All of these are opportunities to register new voters. The Indian Health Service and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service have already taken meaningful steps and we look forward to action from other agencies this year.
“We need a democracy that works for everyone in it. The blood shed on that Sunday in 1965 should not be in vain. The time to finish the job is now.”