President Biden’s backdoor plan to influence elections

Democrats’ “voting rights” legislation is finally dead. With the Senate’s failure to end the filibuster, President Biden is unable to achieve his top priority of overruling state election integrity reforms and mandating deeply concerning voting practices nationwide. Yet the president still has a backdoor plan to influence elections. He’s using the vast and powerful federal bureaucracy to register and mobilize voters nationwide.

Last March, President Biden signed an executive order on “Promoting Access to Voting.” It directed federal agencies—more than 400 exist—to develop plans to “expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process.” Everything from the Department of Defense to the Environmental Protection Agency to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is covered by this mandate. They must direct voters to state and federal registration websites, distribute registration and vote-by-mail applications, assist people in completing them, and allow third-party organizations to register voters on agency premises.

This is unprecedented. Federal officials serving a Democratic administration have effectively been dragooned into getting out the vote. Their actions have the potential to affect the voting habits of tens of millions of people, if not more. Few things are more inappropriate for the federal government.

While that’s bad enough, what’s worse is that the White House is hiding the details. Agencies were given 200 days to submit their plans, yet since that deadline passed in September, hardly any information has been publicly released. While the White House has provided high-level descriptions of 14 department-level plans, the specifics are nowhere to be found. Even the top-line notes are deeply concerning. For instance, the Department of Education is preparing a “tool kit of resources and strategies” to be shared with 67 million students. That includes millions who are or will be of voting age by the 2022 and 2024 elections. The contents of that toolkit remain veiled.

Transparency is needed, given the stakes. The Foundation for Government Accountability has filed multiple Freedom of Information Act requests with federal agencies, yet the response has been stonewalling at every turn. That’s why, on Jan. 19, one of us (Rep. Budd) submitted a letter to the White House demanding details on the administration’s plans. Signed by 36 members of Congress, the letter outlines the major concerns posed by the president’s executive order.

First, why is the White House forcing agencies with no responsibility for enforcing election laws to become intimately involved with voting? That raises obvious concerns about political interference in elections using the federal government’s significant manpower and resources. Nothing like this has ever been attempted, for good reason. It smacks of manipulation and partisan meddling.

Second, what third-party organizations will agencies allow on their premises? The executive order simply says they must be “approved” and “non-partisan,” yet that’s hardly exhaustive or even descriptive criteria. There is a disturbing possibility that ideologically motivated groups could get the nod, since agencies are charged with “soliciting and facilitating” third-party involvement.

Third, why does the executive order bear a striking similarity to the election plan drafted by the left-wing group Demos? Released in December 2020, it called on the Biden administration to turn the federal bureaucracy into “voter registration agencies.” Three months later, after hiring several Demos leaders, the president signed the executive order.

The Demos plan also demands that the Department of Justice be weaponized to stifle opponents of such policies, which the Biden administration has also embraced. The department is suing states, including Texas and Georgia, that have passed reforms making it easy to vote but hard to cheat. It’s also issuing politicized guidance designed to bar further state action. So much overlap with a left-wing wish list further taints the Biden administration’s actions.

The congressional letter asks the Biden administration to provide copies of all agency plans created under the president’s executive order. The American people deserve to know what agencies are planning to do, what they are already doing, and why the federal government is doing anything at all.

The potential for abuse is rampant. Fresh off the Biden administration’s 25 percent increase in food stamp benefits, is the Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program, helping register recipients to vote? Is the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which has implemented the Biden administration’s Medicaid expansion to cover an additional 17 million able-bodied adults, helping them complete mail-in ballot applications? Americans deserve answers to these and many other questions.

The death of Democrats’ legislation in Congress is far from the end of the fight to prevent fraud and preserve election integrity. The Biden administration’s attempt to transform the federal bureaucracy into an electoral tool is equally concerning, if not more so. The White House must come clean on what’s happening and disclose its plans immediately. And for the sake of Americans’ trust in our republic, the Biden administration must be stopped.

Ted Budd represents North Carolina’s 13th District. Tarren Bragdon is president and CEO of the Foundation for Government Accountability.

Tags Executive Order Joe Biden Promoting Access to Voting Voting
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