Biden to talk voting rights in Philly

U.S. President Joe Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews
President Joe Biden is expected to arrive in Philadelphia on Tuesday afternoon.
REUTERS/Tom Brenner

President Joe Biden will be in Philadelphia this week to discuss efforts to bolster voting rights as Republican lawmakers in several states, including Pennsylvania, push to tighten election restrictions.

Biden is expected to arrive in the city Tuesday afternoon, though the timing and location of his speech remains uncertain Sunday.

White House officials said the president will “deliver remarks on actions to protect the sacred, constitutional right to vote.”

Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, told reporters Friday that voting accessibility continues to be a priority for the administration.

“He will make the moral case to the American people on why the right to vote is fundamental to who we are as a nation,” she said when asked about the speech in Philadelphia.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke Thursday with leaders from Black civil rights organizations about the voting laws, many of which have been spearheaded by Republicans who, without evidence, doubt the legitimacy of the pair’s electoral victory.

Following the meeting, the Rev. Al Sharpton, who participated in the discussion, said he expects “a summer of activism.”

In Pennsylvania, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, a supporter of former President Donald Trump, last week called for a “forensic investigation” into the results of this year’s primary and the 2020 general election.

He requested documents and materials from several counties, including Philadelphia.

On Saturday, the Pennsylvania Department of State told election officials not to turn over balloting software or electronics, warning that counties that did so would be required to purchase new voting systems.

Gov. Tom Wolf in June vetoed a GOP-backed legislative package that would have required in-person voters to show identification and created a signature-matching process for mail ballots.

Republican leaders have vowed to continue pursuing the measures, potentially through an amendment to the state constitution, which would have to be approved by voters. Currently, only first-time voters have to show ID in Pennsylvania.

A sweeping federal election reform bill that would have expanded early voting and made it easier to vote by mail stalled last month in the U.S. Senate, prompting some Democrats to consider taking aim at the filibuster.

The procedure means that most legislation must garner some Republican support.

After the bill failed, Biden, in a statement, said “this fight is far from over.”

Reuters contributed to this report.