As the 2024 elections approach, President Biden is being urged to increase voter registration and turnout among new immigrants and individuals in federal custody prior to trial.
A progress report titled “Strengthening Democracy” was released by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, along with a coalition of more than 50 left-wing organizations, which called on federal agencies to do more to promote get-out-the-vote efforts in line with Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting.
The report gave failing grades to many agencies, including immigration services and the Department of Justice, on current plans to increase voter registration.
The report recognized three agencies, including the Department of the Interior, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and the Department of the Treasury, which it believes are on the right track.
However, it criticized many agencies for making minimal progress on their initial commitments or leaving important opportunities on the table.
The report urged federal agencies to act swiftly over the next several months, to ensure that registering to vote and the act of voting is made simple and easy for all those eligible to do so.
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) expressed concerns that the report focused on only those agencies that historically interact with voters that favor the President’s political party.
The FGA has warned that Biden’s executive order goes beyond the scope of the federal government and deploys the full force and might of the federal government to do the work that should be reserved for political parties.
The FGA sued the Justice Department last year after agencies refused to release information about how agencies are implementing the election mandates.
FGA president and CEO Tarren Bragdon criticized the distinct lack of transparency and secrecy surrounding the Biden administration’s voter registration and mobilization efforts.
The report noted that USCIS is not doing enough to promote voter registration opportunities for new citizens, although the group promotes some resources.
The report urged USCIS to do more, stating that “many of these new potential voters represent communities marginalized in the democratic process, including people with limited English proficiency, people of color, people with low incomes, young people, and others.”
The report also praised the U.S. Treasury Department for making a concerted effort to promote voter registration access to low-income clients of its voluntary tax preparation clinics.
The report urged the Department of Justice and U.S. Marshals Service to get eligible voters held in pre-trial custody to vote.
The U.S. Marshals Service was criticized for not committing to other effective activities, such as opening the door to polling places in its contracting facilities and leveraging its contracts to ensure ballot access for all eligible voters, not just those in federal custody.
Overall, the report emphasizes the need for federal agencies to work quickly and do everything they can to make voter registration and voting more accessible to the millions of eligible voters that they interact on a regular basis.
While a few agencies have made noteworthy progress, most have not, and urgent action is needed to strengthen democracy before the 2024 elections.