Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Biden marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ by signing voting rights order

Biden marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ by signing voting rights order

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
People march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama, to mark the 1965 ‘Bloody Sunday’ attack on civil rights activists. AFP

Biden marks ‘Bloody Sunday’ by signing voting rights order

US President Joe Biden on March 7 signed an executive order aimed at making it easier for US citizens to vote at a time when new limits on their right to do so are pending in statehouses across the country.

He announced the order in a pre-taped speech marking the anniversary of the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, when peaceful Black marchers were attacked by police. That brutal suppression brought national attention to the issue of voting rights.

“Today, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, I am signing an executive order to make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting,” Biden said.

‘Let the people vote’

Biden’s move comes as several Republican-controlled state legislatures push to curtail voting access in response to Donald Trump’s election loss and his repeated claims of election fraud that are widely believed to be false.

It also comes four days after the US House of Representatives passed a sweeping bill aimed at lowering voting barriers nationwide, a top Democratic priority but one stoutly opposed by Republicans.

The For the People Act would expand no-excuse voting by mail, make voter registration automatic, outlaw partisan redistricting and impose new requirements on so-called dark money donations to political groups.

But the bill, which Biden supports, faces a deeply uncertain fate, needing 60 votes to move forward in a Senate divided 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans.

Biden’s order makes clear that voting rights are an administration priority, ordering all federal agencies to review ways to improve voting practices, with a particular focus on voters with disabilities, the incarcerated and other underserved groups.

But it contains few concrete and immediate changes and might have limited impact on the efforts in Republican states to restrict voting practices.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Police prepare to confront civil rights activists at the Edmund Pettus Bridge during Bloody Sunday in 1965. US DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE

“The president doesn’t have the executive authority to prevent a state from taking that kind of action,” an administration official said in a briefing on March 6.

The order directs federal agencies to submit a “strategic plan” within 200 days outlining ways they can promote voter registration and participation.

It also directs the federal chief information officer to improve or modernise federal websites that provide election and voting information.

In his remarks on March 7, Biden said efforts to undermine the 2020 election results, which led to the January 6 attack on the Capitol, were now being followed “by an all-out assault on the right to vote in state legislatures all across the country”.

“Elected officials in 43 states have already introduced more than 250 bills to make it harder for Americans to vote. We cannot let them succeed.”

If the president’s influence over state laws is limited, the administration briefer said he is doing all he can.

“He’s leaving no cards on the table,” she said.


  • Phnom Penh curfew starts today

    A two-week curfew from 8pm to 5am starts today in Phnom Penh, a day after a sub-decree detailing administrative measures to contain Covid-19 was issued by Prime Minister Hun Sen. “Travelling in Phnom Penh is temporally banned between 8pm and 5am,” said Phnom Penh governor

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Cambodia gears up for muted New Year festival

    The recent curfew and restrictions imposed in the capital and other Covid-19 hotspots were intended to break the chain of transmission, Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said as municipal and provincial authorities issued new directives banning certain activities during the upcoming Khmer New Year

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Covid-19 vaccination now obligatory

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on April 11 issued a sub-decree making Covid-19 vaccination compulsory for individuals unless they have a medical certificate proving they have pre-existing health conditions that prevent them from doing so. «This applies to all members of the armed forces and civil servants

  • Time to Rise by rapper, chapei legend is viral hit with ancient-modern mix

    Kong Nay is known internationally as the master of the chapei dang veng, a traditional Cambodian instrument resembling a long-necked lute or guitar with two nylon strings that he was already playing professionally by the age of 15. Nay is sometimes referred to as the Cambodian