Padilla Pushes Administration to Modernize Vote.gov, Increase Voter Access to Resources and Information

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), a member of the Senate Rules Committee and California’s former Secretary of State, Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) led a group of 13 Senators in urging U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Robin Carnahan to provide updates regarding GSA’s implementation of President Biden’s 2021 Executive Order to modernize Vote.gov to promote and increase voting access.

With many federal agencies directing their users to Vote.gov, the letter highlights how the success of the Administration’s efforts to promote voting depends in part on the modernization and accessibility of the website.

“The Voting Executive Order specifically instructed GSA to take steps to modernize and improve Vote.gov. … The Executive Order’s section on Vote.gov modernization requires the website (as well as the forms on it) to become accessible to people with disabilities, accessible to people who speak non-English languages, and — to the extent possible — fully usable as an online experience,” wrote the Senators.

“Vote.gov serves as the primary federal resource for voters to register to vote, check their voter registration status, and find voting information,” continued the Senators.

Specifically, the Senators asked GSA to provide:

  • A complete outline of GSA’s implementation plan of the voting executive order;
  • An accompanying status update and timeline on their execution and/or implementation; and
  • The date the Administration expects the implementation and Vote.gov modernization to be substantially complete. 

The Senators also applauded the actions GSA has taken so far to implement the voting executive order, including translating voter information into 16 additional languages.

In addition to Senators Padilla, Merkley, Klobuchar, and Van Hollen, U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Laphonza Butler (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) also signed the letter.

Senator Padilla believes that our democracy is strongest when every eligible American participates. He is a champion for stronger voting rights, bipartisan election administration reforms, and increased funding to modernize and secure our elections. Last month, Padilla and Congresswoman Norma Torres (D-Calif.-35) introduced bicameral legislation to improve voter registration efforts at naturalization ceremonies. Padilla is also a staunch supporter of the Freedom to Vote Act, legislation he and Senate Democrats introduced to improve access to the ballot for Americans, advance commonsense federal election standards and campaign finance reforms, and protect our democracy.

Full text of the letter is available here and below:

Dear Administrator Carnahan,

We write to request an update on your agency’s implementation of President Biden’s Executive Order 14019 to promote voting access by modernizing Vote.gov.

The Voting Executive Order specifically instructed GSA to take steps to modernize and improve Vote.gov, an official website of GSA, in partnership with the Election Assistance Commission, agencies, and key stakeholders. The Executive Order’s section on vote.gov modernization requires the website (as well as the forms on it) to become accessible to people with disabilities, accessible to people who speak non-English languages, and – to the extent possible – fully usable as an online experience.

The success of the administration’s efforts to promote voting hinge on the success of this effort as many federal agencies are increasing voter access by directing their users to Vote.gov.

Vote.gov serves as the primary federal resource for voters to register to vote, check their voter registration status, and find voting information. These services are essential to the one in four eligible voters who are not registered to vote. Vote.gov currently states it “continues to improve the site to meet the goals in President Biden’s Executive Order… [which] include improving accessibility, translating voter tools into key languages, and enhancing search functionality on the website.”

We applaud the actions GSA has taken thus far to implement the Voting Executive Order and expand voter registration access, such as by translating trustworthy voter information in 16 additional languages, including Chinese, Navajo, Hindi, and Tagalog. We want to underscore the urgency and significance of swiftly continuing this progress and urge the GSA to promptly implement needed changes to Vote.gov.

Voters continue to face challenges to access their fundamental right to vote. According to research conducted by the Brennan Center, 14 states enacted 17 restrictive voting laws in 2023. North Carolina’s law eliminates ballot drop boxes, restricts vote by mail, and makes it more likely that voters using same-day registration do not have their ballots counted. Idaho’s law targets students by restricting commonly-used documentation by students to register to vote.

We commend GSA for its efforts to promote voter registration and voting information access, and ask that you provide us, no later than March 1, 2024 with (1) a complete outline of GSA’s implementation plan of the Voting Executive Order, (2) an accompanying status update and timeline on their execution and/or implementation, and (3) the date the Administration expects the implementation and Vote.gov modernization to be substantially complete.

We thank you for your commitment to voters and appreciate your engagement.

Sincerely, 

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