The Biden administration held a closed-door West Wing meeting with leaders from some of the prominent civil rights and social justice organizations on Thursday, at the urging of movement leaders and congressional Democrats who are concerned about the recent attempts to disenfranchise Black voters and marginalized groups, especially in light of the upcoming 2022 midterms elections.
On Thursday, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris sat down with leaders from the NAACP, the National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, the National Council of Negro Women, the Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the National Urban League and the National Action Network.
The group also reportedly discussed the importance of police reform across the country amid the repeated killings of Black community members at the hands of law enforcement.
“In our meeting with the Biden administration, we expressed an urgent need for legislation that provides equitable access to the ballot box, and offered strategies for mobilizing locally and nationally to ensure democracy works for all,” NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in an emailed statement.
Harris was appointed by Biden to oversee the White House’s work on extending and preserving voting rights and during a Thursday afternoon speech at her alma mater, Howard University, unveiled a $25 million expansion of the Democratic National Committee’s “I Will Vote” initiative which addresses voter suppression.
“This campaign is grounded in the firm belief that everyone’s vote matters — that your vote matters,” Harris said. “We want to help to make sure your vote is counted, and that is because our democracy is strongest when everyone participates.”
“Your vote matters. Your voice matters. Your will matters,” Harris said. “Your desire for yourself and your families matters, and regardless of who you are, where you live, or what party you belong to, your vote matters. Your vote is your power, and I say don’t ever let anyone take your power from you.”
The Biden administration is reportedly also working on Biden delivering remarks on the importance of voting rights after congressional Democrats and advocates urge him to come out in front to lead on the issue.
Last week’s Supreme Court ruling on a controversial Arizona voting law which furthered gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, by preventing voters from submitting a completed ballot from another voter, with limitations, and restricts voters from casting ballots at a separate polling location than their assigned voting site. Prior to the SCOTUS ruling, a lower court had found the laws to be discriminatory.
Coupled with the emergence of voter suppression bills across the United States and Republicans opting to use the filibuster to prevent the opening of debate regarding the For The People Act, pressure mounted for the White House to act. The emergence of the laws was in direct response to an overwhelming show of support from Black and minority communities during the 2020 presidential elections, which was mired with false claims of voter fraud and tampering.