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Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow

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How a 2021 Biden executive order jeopardizes election integrity

Aug 22, 2023

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As the 2024 presidential election approaches, a 2021 Biden executive order has come under Republican scrutiny. The “Promoting Access to Voting” order empowers every federal agency to boost voter registration and participation. With a Democrat in the White House, some say this could push Democratic candidates to increase their get-out-the-vote efforts.

Conservatives like Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten see this executive order as a maneuver by the federal government to grab more control over elections — in violation of the Constitution, the law, and basic ethics.

In 2021, the president passed an executive order directing every federal agency, more than 600 in all, to register and mobilize voters, with a focus on “people of color” and others the White House says face “challenges to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” He ordered agencies to collaborate with supposedly nonpartisan nonprofits — though virtually all of the supporters of the order are progressive groups. 

To understand how monumental this effort could be, consider that left-leaning think tank, Demos, which in late 2020 drafted a blueprint for the order, estimates that if fully implemented, it could generate 3.5 million new or updated voter registrations annually. Even a more modest increase could dramatically impact the 2024 race, considering recent presidential contests have been decided by just thousands of votes in several states.

This looks like a way for Democrats to use the agencies they control to collude with progressive activists to drive up the Democrat vote with our tax dollars — arguably in violation of the Constitution which leaves elections to the states, and minimally, a slew of laws from the Administrative Procedure Act to the Hatch Act.

There’s an elephant hiding in the 2024 election room.

It’s not about the candidates, it’s about how the White House is working to manipulate the system itself.

 

Democrats have for years sought to systematically erode the integrity of elections — although they don’t frame it that way — by pushing for mass mail-in balloting, lax ID standards, and conducting elections over weeks. 

 

Overnight in 2020, under the guise of COVID, they brought us into a brave new remote voting world, which is less about turning out informed and motivated voters as collecting the most ballots, through practices Democrats have been perfecting for years like ballot harvesting.

 

Time’s 2020 exposé, “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election” tells this story in part. So does Mollie Hemingway’s “Rigged.” 

 

One element of the widespread effort by America’s ruling class to tilt the election against Donald Trump was to use private dollars — “Zuckbucks” — referring to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife’s funneling of some $400 million through two nonprofits into election offices across the country during the 2020 election to drive out Democrat voters. 

 

That money often flowed to left-leaning nonprofits who managed critical aspects of election administration that were considered crucial to Biden’s winning the White House.

 

The Biden administration has fashioned a similar strategy for mobilizing Democrat votes, call it “BidenBucks.”

 

In 2021, the president passed an executive order, directing every federal agency, more than 600 in all, to register and mobilize voters, with a focus on “people of color” and others the White House says face “challenges to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” 

 

He ordered agencies to collaborate with supposedly nonpartisan nonprofits – though virtually all of the supporters of the order are progressive groups.  

To understand how monumental this effort could be, consider that left-leaning think tank Demos, which in late 2020 drafted a blueprint for the order, estimates that if fully implemented, it could generate 3.5 million new or updated voter registrations annually. 

 

Even a more modest increase could dramatically impact the 2024 race, considering recent presidential contests have been decided by just thousands of votes in several states.

 

This looks like a way for Democrats to use the agencies they control to collude with progressive activists to drive up the Democrat vote with our tax dollars – arguably in violation of the Constitution which leaves elections to the states, and minimally a slew of laws from the Administrative Procedure Act to the Hatch Act.

 

Conservative concerns aren’t only driven by Demos’ drafting of the order, but the little information that has emerged about how it’s been implemented — and by whom. 

 

On the first anniversary of the order, Demos revealed that  it worked extensively with federal agencies and state partners to implement the order, noting it did so “in close partnership with the ACLU and other allies.” Demos would reportedly help the Indian Health Service register and mobilize voters.

In March, near the two-year anniversary of the order, the administration released a summary statement noting that agencies from the Department of Education, to DOD had carried out efforts ranging from making voter registration information and materials more readily available on agency websites, in documents, and across their offices, to successfully designating themselves as voter registration agencies.  

 

Before, agencies from the Departments of Labor to HUD and Agriculture, had disclosed generally other ways they were working to comply with the order, like seeking to drive voter registration via job training centers, public housing authorities, and child nutrition programs. You see how those efforts could be linked to the Democrat programs?

 

Progressive groups are urging additional measures like for the U.S. Marshals Service to provide eligible individuals in federal pre-trial detention “access to high-quality voter registration services and assistance voting”; that the Education Department incorporate voter registration opportunities into the federal student aid process; and that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offer voter registration services “at or immediately after all naturalization ceremonies.” Congratulations on becoming an American, vote Democrat.

 

Now, my criticism here is not rooted in the idea that more people ought to vote, but that this systematically erodes the constraints which ensure the vote is legitimate, and it corrupts our electoral process when you have potentially partisan agencies illegally driving the turn out. Evidence shows that the White House Counsel’s office and DOJ has worked with a whole slew of “civil and voting rights organizations,” so called, in developing the order — almost universally progressive groups like the George Soros-Affiliate Open Society Policy Center, the SPLC, and the AFL-CIO.

 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration has stonewalled efforts to scrutinize the order by often ignoring Congress’ document requests and litigating to shield relevant records. 

 

Most critically, the administration has refused to produce the agency-specific strategic plans called for under the order, that would comprehensively capture the order’s scope, and remained largely silent about which third-party groups agencies are coordinating with and on what grounds.

 

Republicans have recently advanced legislation to combat the executive order, seeking to defund it through appropriations, and nullify it via the American Confidence in Elections Act, which is widely supported in the House. 

There’s a companion effort in the Senate, but it’s unlikely to move.

More document requests may be forthcoming, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. 

 

Stewart Whitson of the Foundation for Government Accountability, which has been litigating with the Biden administration for months to press it to release documents pertaining to the order, has argued, compellingly, that “Congress should use its subpoena and oversight power to gather evidence, including sworn testimony and documents…” that can be leveraged by state attorneys general to sue the Biden administration and seek a permanent injunction, blocking the order. “[I]t’s up to the states and Congress to work together to stop this unprecedented scheme before time runs out,” he says. 

 

If they don’t act, that will be very telling about the seriousness of Republicans’ desire to maintain some semblance of integrity of the vote, and to win in 2024.

 

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