Biden defends Americans' right to vote 'freely' in Memorial Day remarks

President Biden on Monday stressed the right for Americans to be able to vote “freely,” “fairly” and “conveniently” during Memorial Day remarks that came one day after Texas Democrats staged a walkout to block the passage of a sweeping election overhaul package.

Speaking from Arlington National Cemetery, Biden in his address to Armed Forces members and Gold Star families said that how we honor the U.S. soldiers who have died in conflicts and wars across the globe “will determine whether or not democracy will long endure.” 

“Democracy thrives when the infrastructure of democracy is strong,” Biden said. “When people have the right to vote freely and fairly and conveniently.” 

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“When a free and independent press pursues the truth, founded on facts, not propaganda,” Biden added. “When the rule of law applies equally and fairly to every citizen, regardless of where they come from, what they look like.” 

Biden's remarks come as Republican-led state legislatures across the U.S. attempt to institute new restrictions on voters that critics say disproportionately impact communities of color.

In Texas, Democrats walked off the state House floor just before midnight Sunday to block the passage of a sweeping election overhaul package that they argued would place new impediments to voting in future elections, particularly for low-income voters and those with disabilities.

Among the bill’s proposed changes are limits to early and curbside voting and bans on outdoor temporary polling places. The legislation also prohibits the use of 24-hour early voting, which was widely used in Texas's Harris County, which Biden won in the 2020 presidential election.

Biden blasted the Texas legislation in a Saturday statement, calling it “un-American.”

“Today, Texas legislators put forth a bill that joins Georgia and Florida in advancing a state law that attacks the sacred right to vote,” he said. “It’s part of an assault on democracy that we’ve seen far too often this year—and often disproportionately targeting Black and brown Americans,” 

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In the 21st century, we should be making it easier, not harder, for every eligible voter to vote,” he added.

During his Memorial Day remarks, Biden lamented that “generation after generation of American heroes have signed up to be a part of the fight because they understand the truth that lives in every American heart.” 

“That liberation, opportunity, justice are far more likely to come to pass in a democracy than an autocracy,” he added, “If every person is sacred, and every person's rights are sacred, individual dignity, individual worth, individual sanctity, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” 

“We say those words so often, but think of it. The right to vote, the right to rise in a world as far as your talent can take you, unlimited by unfair barriers of privilege and power,” Biden said. “Such are the principles of democracy.”