President Joe Biden signed a March 7 executive order (EO) directing Federal agencies to aid in increasing voting access. The EO directs the Federal CIO to coordinate the modernization efforts of Federal agencies’ websites and digital services that provide election and voter information.
The EO comes at a time when the House-passed “For the People Act”, also known as H.R. 1, faces an uncertain future in a 50-50 Senate. The EO also gives the General Services Administration (GSA) instructions to modernize and improve Vote.gov, along with the Election Assistance Commission and other stakeholders.
“[The] Executive Order is an initial step in this administration’s efforts to protect the right to vote and ensure all eligible citizens can freely participate in the electoral process,” a March 7 White House release says. “The President is committed to working with Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act and pass H.R. 1, the For the People Act, which includes bold reforms to make it more equitable and accessible for all Americans to exercise their fundamental right to vote.”
Beyond instructing Federal agencies to leverage existing websites and social media to provide voter registration information, the EO also directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to analyze the current barriers to voting for people with disabilities. The order directs NIST to analyze access to voter registration, voting technology, voting by mail, polling locations, and poll worker training.
The EO gives GSA 200 days to submit a plan to modernize Vote.gov. Beyond the previously mentioned directives, the EO also gives guidance for increasing access to voting for Federal workers, those overseas, and people in the military; provide voter education and access to eligible voters in federal custody; establish a Native American voting rights steering group; and directs Federal agencies to work with states via the National Voter Registration Act.