Biden will use his remarks in Philadelphia “to make the case to the American people about how this is a fundamental right,” Psaki said.
The address from Biden comes in the aftermath of former President Donald Trump’s “Big Lie” that the 2020 presidential election was stolen and as Republican-controlled legislatures have pressed ahead with new state laws imposing limits on voting. Since the November election, state lawmakers have enacted 28 laws in 17 states that restrict ballot access, according to a June tally by the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law.
In recent days, the eyes of voting rights advocates have been fixed on Texas, where GOP lawmakers are mounting another push for restrictive voting laws during a 30-day special legislative session that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott says he wants to see focused in part on “election integrity.” Texas Democratic lawmakers have fled the state in an attempt to deny the special session a quorum, which would prevent any new laws from being passed.
The President and his team have repeatedly previewed a major push on voting rights after Republicans in the US Senate blocked a sweeping election reform bill last month, but it remains unclear how much he can accomplish. Passing new voting legislation in Congress will almost certainly require altering filibuster rules, since Democrats’ slim majority in the Senate isn’t enough to overcome GOP opposition — and it’s not clear Democrat have the votes to pass a bill anyway.
And Biden has said his efforts must go beyond simply limiting dark money in politics or making Election Day a federal holiday — two items included in the major bill blocked by Republicans last month. He said in June that Democratic efforts must expand to limit the ability of election boards to toss out results or replace officials based on ideology.
But with no clear legislative path in sight, the administration has announced a $25 million expansion of a voting rights effort spearheaded by the Democratic National Committee — though civil rights advocates have pushed the President to do more.
“This is the moment. There is no more time,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, the president of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, who attended a candid session in the White House Roosevelt Room last week alongside other leaders of civil rights organizations. “We must have legislation. We must have the President use his voice, use his influence, use his power, and use what he clearly understands about this moment.”
Additional pressure on Biden to act came earlier this month when a Supreme Court decision limited the ability of minorities to challenge state laws they say are discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.
The high court upheld two provisions of an Arizona voting law. The first provision says in-person ballots cast at the wrong precinct on Election Day must be wholly discarded. Another provision restricts a practice known as “ballot collection,” requiring that only family caregivers, mail carriers and election officials can deliver another person’s completed ballot to a polling place.
“In a span of just eight years, the Court has now done severe damage to two of the most important provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 — a law that took years of struggle and strife to secure,” Biden said in a statement reacting to the decision. “After all we have been through to deliver the promise of this Nation to all Americans, we should be fully enforcing voting rights laws, not weakening them.”
Beyond pushing for a sweeping voting rights package and denouncing restrictive state-level laws, Biden’s Tuesday speech will also take aim at Trump’s continued election lies. During a rambling Sunday address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Trump returned again and again to election-related lies.
The President, Psaki said, will “call out the greatest irony of the big lie” that “no election in our history has met such a high standard, with over 80 judges including those appointed by his predecessor, throwing out all challenges.”