Why Biden wants to change US election laws

US President Joe Biden has advocated changes to the country’s election laws, claiming threats of “encroachment” on US elections

Why Biden wants to change US election laws

This was stated in his address published on the White House website to mark the anniversary of the death of Congressman John Lewis, who was one of the leaders of the civil rights movement in the 1960s.

“I again urge Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act so that I can sign them. As a country, we must come together in a coalition of Americans of all backgrounds and party affiliations … and pay special attention to this moment”, –  Biden stressed.

“An Act for the People,” which Joe Biden is pushing for as soon as possible, would, among other things, expand voter registration (automatic registration and processing on Election Day) and access to voting (will by mail and early voting). It also restricts the removal of voters from the register. In addition, the bill establishes provisions relating to election security, including those involving the transfer of intelligence information to state electoral officials, as well as other provisions “aimed at developing cybersecurity of electoral systems”.

As for the “John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act”, it would restore the rules under the “Voting Rights Act” of 1965, which President Lyndon Johnson signed into law. This document removed barriers to political participation for black Americans in some states. In 2013, the US Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a section of it which required nine states and several other administrative-territorial units with a history of racial discrimination to coordinate at the federal level the innovations they intended to include in their election laws.

According to Biden, the two bills should be passed in light of recent events in the US.

“We have not seen such ferocious attacks on voter rights and electoral integrity since the black civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s – from the ‘big lie’ to the January 6 riots, to new waves of voter suppression and a new front to undermine the electoral process”, –  the US president said in a statement.

“Domestic terrorism”

Recall that on January 6, supporters of 45th US President Donald Trump stormed the congress building. They wanted to prevent the results of the November 3, 2020 White House leadership election, which was won by Joe Biden. Trump supporters disagreed with the results and called them fraudulent. Trump himself has also repeatedly made this claim.

The White House leader-elect accused the former US leader of encouraging unrest in Washington and called those involved in the storming “domestic terrorists”.

After taking office, Biden instructed law enforcement agencies to look into what happened. The FBI and the US Department of Justice, in particular, are still investigating. Hundreds of people accused of criminal acts are under investigation.

In addition to the investigation, Biden decided to tackle changes to US election law. In March 2021, he signed the Executive Order “Expanding Voting Opportunity”, designed to make it easier for Native Americans, non-whites, prisoners, the military and people with disabilities to register to vote.

In particular, as explained in a fact sheet on the White House website, members of the “non-white electorate” face longer lines at polling stations more often and are also “more restricted in their ability to vote by mail”.

As for Native Americans, they lack polling stations and voter registration locations close to home, the Biden administration noted. To combat those problems, U.S. officials have proposed improving federal online portals where voters can find out the voting information they want and register.

“To expand the influence of the Democratic Party”

According to Konstantin Blokhin, a leading researcher at the RAS Center for Security Studies, Biden primarily wants to increase the number of people loyal to the Democrats through changes in the electoral law in preparation for next year’s House of Representatives elections.

“Biden needs to get as many people of colour and those who could potentially vote for Democratic representatives on his side as possible. The number of such people is increasing, but not always and not everyone has the opportunity to vote. The President of the United States wants to create mechanisms that will expand the influence of the Democratic Party on the voters’ minds”, –  the analyst said in a conversation with RT.

For his part, Yuri Rogulyov, director of the Franklin Roosevelt Foundation for U.S. Studies at Moscow State University, said that Democrats are interested in certain categories of citizens who could vote for them.

“Representatives of the Democratic Party are trying to maintain their enormous influence on the African-American electorate and Hispanic voters, as well as to attract new members of this segment of society to their side. The number of people of colour in the U.S. is growing as a result of uncontrolled migration, so the Democrats have a lot to work with,” the interlocutor told RT.

At the same time, Rogulov noted that the United States already has a number of regulations relating to the right to vote.

“These documents say that any discrimination in elections is prohibited. And the southern states are not violating these regulations for the most part right now. However, Biden is resorting to some kind of manoeuvre to increase the Democrats’ chances in the upcoming elections to the House of Representatives”, –  the expert believes.

Konstantin Blokhin reminded that many Americans, not only Republicans, still believe that the voting was unfair after the postal vote in the presidential election.

“Now Biden is trying to put out the fire of dissent with his measures”, –  the expert suggested.

Democrats have stepped up their activities on this front to respond to those Americans who do not share the view that the last US election was fair, Yuri Rogulyov added.

“The Democratic Party needs to block this agenda, somehow muffle the voices on all sides that Biden became president as a result of gerrymandering. After all, during that election, because of the pandemic, Americans could vote in advance or by mail. It was also possible to vote by non-registered lists”, –  recalled the analyst.

However, Blokhin thinks that no matter how the incumbent US President positions himself as a consolidator of the American society, “there is no stability in this direction”. According to him, the head of state’s attempts to change the electoral law only strengthen the split in the society and inflame the situation.

“There is a growing divide between those who believe in the fairness of the last presidential election and those who believe the election was illegitimate. The situation around all this could lead to unpredictable consequences. The storming of Washington on 6 January seemed like something out of a fantasy, but ended up being a reality. With such approach of the current administration, confrontation in the American society cannot be avoided”, –  concluded the expert.

Irina Taran, Elizabeth Komarova, RT

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