So far, however, a major address or trip hasn’t materialized. Instead, Biden has brought in outside advocates for meetings at the White House and has consulted advisers on the best strategy for combating restrictive new laws.
At the same time, pressure has mounted on the White House and Democrats to do more to protect voting rights after a Supreme Court decision limited the ability of minorities to challenge state laws they say are discriminatory under the Voting Rights Act.
The groups with whom Biden plans to on Thursday include the NAACP, National Coalition for Black Civic Participation, National Urban League, National Action Network, NCNW, Leadership Conference for Civil & Human Rights and Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Harris will announce the expansion of the Democratic National Committee’s “I Will Vote” campaign with an event in the Washington area, according to a committee official. She will focus her remarks on why the entire Democratic Party must fight voter suppression, the DNC official said. She will also be made the honorary chairwoman of the DNC’s “I Will Vote” program.
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.
“This is about who gets to judge whether your vote counted after it’s been cast,” he said at the time, claiming Republican voting boards were attempting to throw out votes if they don’t like the results. “That’s never happened before. It’s wrong.”
He was responding to questions on June 24 following the defeat of the sweeping voting and elections bill in Congress. Biden said in his answer he would be “going around the country” to “make the case” for advancing voting rights. Later, his press secretary said he would speak more on the issue the following week.
“I don’t have any specific visits to announce for you yet, but this is going to be a fight of his presidency,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “He believes that voting is a fundamental right for the American people. He is going to use every lever at his disposal to advocate for that. You’ll hear more from him next week as well.”
Last week, however, Biden’s schedule didn’t include a public event on voting rights. Officials said scheduling conflicts — including a trip to visit families affected by the condo collapse in Florida — prevented him from delivering the formal remarks he’d previewed.
Instead, he met behind closed doors with his senior advisers and key experts to discuss “anti-voter legislation that has been proposed or recently passed by state legislatures, legislation pending before Congress, and recent actions taken by the Department of Justice to protect the right to vote.”
The White House said in the meeting, Biden highlighted ways his administration would “ramp up engagement with the American people on voting rights.”
Speaking after meeting with families in Florida, Biden again said he planned a major push on voting rights.
“I think that it is critical that we make a distinction between voter suppression and suspension. The ability of a state legislative body to come along and vote vote to change who is declared the winner, I find to be somewhat astounding,” he said. “I’ll have much more to say about that because I plan on speaking extensively on voting rights as well as going on the road on this issue.”