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V.P. Harris - Voting Rights


Article Source:  V.P. Harris

Remarks by Vice President Harris Before Meeting with Voting Rights Leaders to Discuss the Fight for Voting Rights and Other Fundamental Freedoms

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Indian Treaty Room
Eisenhower Executive Office Building

4:37 P.M. EST

THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Well, good afternoon, everyone.  And, again, I want to thank all of the leaders who have convened this afternoon for the work that you continue to do.

For so many of us, and certainly for you, this is a life calling to do the work that is about upholding fundamental principles, about democracy, the importance of all people being able to express their voice in every way, including through their vote. 

There is so much about our work that we do together that really is grounded in also, I think, a common belief in the importance of self-determination and the connection between that and the right that people have to be able to express their civic duty in every way, including through their ability — unfettered ability to vote.

So, I want to thank you all.  We have often discussed that voting is a fundamental freedom that unlocks all the other freedoms.  And last month, many of us got together in the state of Georgia to address the threats to that sacred freedom. 

And so, today we gather to lay out a four-part strategy to protect the freedom to vote.  The first part is the work that the President and I have done to charge every federal agency to do all they can to make sure that every American has the information that they need to know how they can vote when they are eligible. 

And so, I can now announce as — as a follow-up to that charge that the — that HHS, Health and Human Services, will start emailing information on how to register to vote to everyone who enrolls in the ACA, the Affordable Care Act.  And last year, we had 21 million people.  So, we’re talking about a significant number of people.

The first email was actually sent last Friday.  The Social Security Administration will display signs from Vote.gov.  I’ll repeat that for those who are not in the room: Vote.gov.  And they will have that information in all Social Security offices, which are approximately 1,200 offices around the country which receive, on an annual basis, about 6 million visitors.

The Department of the Interior will participate in that the national parks will display Vote.gov information at park entrances and visitors centers. 

So, these are some examples of how our administration and the President and I have been able to — to charge federal agencies with doing the work that they rightly can do to inform the American people of their right to vote.

Second, we have been doing work to promote voter participation for students.  And, for example, we have — under the federal work study program, now allow students to get paid, through federal work study, to register people and to be nonpartisan poll workers. 

As we know, this important for a number of reasons.  One, to engage our young leaders in this process and activate them in terms of their ability to — to strengthen our communities.  But also, this is the work that we need to do knowing that so many poll workers have left this work for a variety of reasons that we will also discuss.

Third, we are doing work on behalf of our administration to protect election workers, which is obviously connected with the previous point that I made. 

In recent years, we have seen attacks on the integrity of elections.  We have seen those who would loudly attempt to interfere in the lawful votes of the American people and attempt to question the integrity of a fair and free election system.  We have seen a rise in threats against poll workers.  I, in fact, met some recently in Georgia who had harrowing experiences in terms of how they were threatened — their — their well-being, as well as their livelihood.

We have, to that end — in terms of protecting elections workers — through the Department of Justice, created the Elections Threats Taskforce, which has held over 100 events to train local officials to protect election workers.

My Chief Counsel, Erica Songer — where are you, Erica?  There she is — can share contact information at the Department of Justice for all those who might want to make sure that they have all the information that they would need to do their important work.

Fourth, we are continuing with all of the leaders here and with all the other work with the leaders here to fight voter suppression laws.  States across our nation, as we know, have been passing anti-voter laws.  The Department of Justice has challenged laws that discriminate, such as in Georgia and Texas.  And, again, Erica can provide the folks at this table with points of contacts if you have further information that the Department of Justice may need to do its important work in that regard.

And then, of course, many of us will be in Selma on Sunday to commemorate Bloody Sunday, to remember the great John Lewis and Amelia Boynton and so many others, and to issue a call, yet again, for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. 

And so, this is some of the work that we will continue to do.

And I’m also pleased to announce today that we will declare three national days of action, together with the leaders here, where we can continue to do our work that is about uplifting communities, strengthening coalitions, strengthening communities around their power and ability to lead in their own communities.

And so, those three national days of action for voting will be Juneteenth, the anniversary of the Voting Rights Act, and, of course, National Voter Registration Day.  And I look forward to working with all the leaders here and — and others around the country to organize folks around these three days, in addition to what happens every day.

So, with that, I thank you all again.  I look forward to this conversation.

I’m now going to turn it over to the great Neera Tanden to moderate our conversation.

END                  4:44 P.M. EST


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