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July 09, 2021

President Biden coming to Philadelphia to deliver speech on voting rights

The visit comes as a Republican state senator is urging Pennsylvania to conduct an audit of last year's election results

President Joe Biden will be in Philadelphia on Tuesday to deliver a speech on ballot access, fulfilling a pledge to address an increasingly partisan issue. 

The event comes as Republicans across the country have sought to tighten voting access in the aftermath of last November's presidential election. Biden has come under pressure for not taking a more active role in securing democratic rights. 

Last month, Senate Republicans shot down the For the People Act, a broad bill aiming to simplify voter registration and ballot procedures, reform campaign finance and require non-partisan commissions to draw congressional districts, among other measures. 

The bill, supported in a national poll by majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, was passed by the House of Representatives without any GOP support and later stalled by a Republican filibuster in the Senate.

Meanwhile, Republican-led state legislatures have continued to pass bills that make voting harder — including two Arizona laws that were upheld last week by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The ruling in Brnovich v. Democratic National Committee intensified the sense of urgency among Democrats. It sets tougher standards for voting rights protections in cases when minorities allege state laws have created voting barriers. 

On Thursday, Vice President Kamala Harris announced a $25 million spending initiative by the Democratic National Committee to support voting rights in advance of next year's mid-term elections.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said the Biden administration still hopes to pass federal legislation on voting rights, but also may explore other ways to address mounting concerns about ballot access.

"The president would love to sign a piece of voting rights legislation into law. He is — looks forward to doing that," Psaki said Thursday. "But he also knows that there are a number of levers from the federal government that we should continue to use, and he's not waiting to have the legislation on his desk."

Additional details about Biden's speech in Philadelphia were not revealed Friday afternoon.

The announcement follows a new push from Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, to audit the 2020 election results. His calls came with a similar partisan examination underway in Arizona.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf swiftly condemned Mastriano's demand. He issued a directive to counties not to cooperate with any third party seeking access to election results and equipment.