ERN Joins Other Ed Equity Leaders to Urge President Biden to
Protect and Expand Access to Voting
40 education & civil rights advocacy groups call on President Biden—through Secretary Cardona— to implement recommended actions to increase voter registration and voter participation.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 21, 2021) — Today, Education Reform Now (ERN)—in partnership with American Federation of Teachers, UnidosUS, Foundation for Civic Leadership, National Urban League, and National Education Association—led a group of 40 education and civil rights organizations in releasing a joint letter detailing a series of recommendations for the U.S. Department of Education to take in support of voting rights and voter participation.
An Executive Order issued by President Biden on March 7th directed federal agency leaders to consider and report within 200 days on ways their departments might promote voter registration, education, and participation. The education and civil rights organizations’ letter sent to Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona recommends four key actions for the administration to pursue: (1) make active use of the Department’s more than 20 million student email addresses on file to facilitate voting-by-mail, (2) offer a “check-the-box” voter registration opportunity to students via the web following online FAFSA completion, (3) clarify students are eligible to be paid for voter registration and non-partisan voter participation activities with federal work study funds, and (4) support optional, automatic-voter registration upon college course registration.
“At a time when many are working to suppress ballot access, particularly for voters of color, education and civil rights groups are united in our commitment to ensuring that all voters have the tools and knowledge needed to get their ballots cast and counted,” said ERN National President Shavar Jeffries.
By implementing the non-regulatory, sub-regulatory, and formal rulemaking steps outlined, ERN and the other groups believe the U.S. Department of Education can facilitate much-needed civic education and empowerment that in turn will lead to education policies reflecting the needs of all communities and all students, particularly those in groups that historically have been disenfranchised.
“Voting is one of our most sacred acts as Americans, and the opportunity to exercise a voice in our democracy must be protected and expanded, particularly to our most marginalized and vulnerable communities,” said Randi Weingarten, President of American Federation of Teachers. “It is through that voice that we help hold our government accountable and improve our daily lives: quality public education, affordable healthcare, and safe and welcome communities where everyone can access opportunities to thrive. If we believe in the fundamental promise of America, then we must do everything we can to ensure broad participation in our electoral process.”
The letter urges Secretary Cardona to not only consider the proposed recommendations, but to then submit a strategic plan—as directed to each agency head in President Biden’s Executive Order—which utilizes the endorsed actions to increase voter registration and ultimately voter participation.
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