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Biden signs order to expand voting rights on "Bloody Sunday" anniversary

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on March 7 expanding access to voter registration services and information for all Americans.

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Over the weekend, on the occasion of the 56th commemoration of "Bloody Sunday," President Joe Biden ordered federal agencies to take a series of steps to promote access to voting.

The late Rep. John Lewis, who pushed for passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, was one of the protesters seriously injured in the historic confrontation in which some 600 civil rights activists were beaten by state troopers as they attempted to march for voting rights in Selma, Alabama.

"Today, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I am signing an executive order to make it easier to register voters and improve access to voting," Biden said in a videotaped speech at the Martin and Coretta Scott King Unity Breakfast. "Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted. If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote."

The move comes just as congressional Democrats push for passage of a comprehensive voting and elections bill to counter Republican efforts to restrict access to voting with their more than 250 measures advanced during the previous term.

Biden's order includes several provisions, including that federal agencies expand access to voter registration and election information, it also calls on agency heads to submit plans to give federal employees time off to vote or volunteer as nonpartisan poll workers, and pushes for an overhaul of the government's Vote.gov website.

The voting rights project aims to remove barriers to voting and bring transparency to a murky campaign finance system that allows wealthy donors to anonymously fund political causes.

The intent of the order is to make the ballot box more accessible to voters of African descent and other ethnic minorities, including Native Americans, CNBC reported. It also expands full-fledged voting access among active-duty military members and all eligible federally incarcerated persons, and voter participation among Native American communities, the Post reported.

The White House claims this order is a "first step" in persuading Congress to restore the Voting Rights Act. 

"I also urge Congress to fully restore the Voting Rights Act, named in honor of John Lewis," Biden said Sunday.

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