Warren, Senators Call on HHS Secretary Becerra to Deliver on Commitment to Expanding Voting Access
HHS Has Not Implemented Voter Registration Access through HealthCare.Gov After its 2021 Commitment, Has Not Responded to Senators’ 2022 Questions on Promoting Voting Access
Washington, D.C. – United States Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) sent a letter to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra, requesting an update on the Department's actions to implement President Biden’s executive order on promoting voting access, including efforts to offer voter registration through HealthCare.gov.
“We wrote to you approximately one year ago to request an update on the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) commitments to promote voting access—including through HealthCare.gov—that were prompted by President Biden’s Executive Order 14019. It has been over two years since President Biden issued the ‘Promoting Access to Voting’ Executive Order (Voting EO); yet, we continue to await a formal response from HHS that includes a substantive update on all the commitments the agency has made to support efforts that help Americans access the ballot box,” wrote the senators.
In response to President Biden’s 2021 “Promoting Access to Voting” Executive Order (Voting EO), which directed agencies to consider ways to expand access to voter registration and election information, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an agency within HHS, pledged to “make it easier for consumers using HealthCare.gov to connect to voter registration services and receive assistance,” among other initiatives.
Senators Warren, Blumenthal, Hirono, Luján, Merkley, and Whitehouse wrote to Secretary Becerra in June 2022, requesting an update on the commitments the Department made in response to President Biden’s Voting EO, including its commitment to expand voting access through HealthCare.gov. The lawmakers highlighted that “difficulty with voter registration is the most significant barrier to voting for low-income Americans and communities of color” and urged HHS to lower these barriers to registration. Secretary Becerra did not respond to the senators.
In this letter, the senators acknowledge the work HHS has made fulfilling some of its commitments, but expressed concerns that it is not sufficiently prioritizing the implementation of voter registration access through HealthCare.gov. The senators are asking Secretary Becerra to respond to this letter with a complete list of commitments HHS has made in response to President Biden’s Voting EO and the status of their execution and completion, along with a detailed report on its progress to include voter registration on HealthCare.gov by July 10, 2023.
Senator Warren has led the fight for the expansion and protection of voting access:
- In July 2022, Senator Warren and Representative Nikema Williams (D-Ga.) introduced the Youth Voting Rights Act, comprehensive legislation to enforce the Twenty-Sixth Amendment and expand youth access to voting.
- In June 2022, Senators Warren, Whitehouse, Merkley, Blumenthal, Hirono, and Luján sent a letter to Health and Human Services requesting an update on the commitments the Department made in response to President Biden’s executive order on expanding and promoting access to voting.
- In May 2022, Senators Warren and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn) led nine of their colleagues in introducing the Sustaining Our Democracy Act. This legislation would provide $20 billion in mandatory federal funding over the next decade to help states and local governments support election administration, including by training and recruiting nonpartisan poll workers and election officials and increasing access to voting in underserved communities.
- In January 2022, Senator Warren delivered a speech on the floor of the United States Senate calling on the Senate to end the filibuster and protect voting rights.
- In October 2021, Senator Warren joined 48 of her Democratic colleagues to introduce the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, a bill that would restore the landmark Voting Rights Act (VRA) and stop widespread attempts at voter suppression.
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