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State lawmakers are pushing back against a controversial “all-of-government” executive order by President Joe Biden to “promote voter registration and voter participation,” as elections have traditionally been run by state and local officials.
On June 2, the Louisiana state Senate voted 35-0 to give final approval to a bill requiring election officials that get federal directives or guidance to notify the governor and state legislative leaders before implementing the policies — unless those policies are part of federal or state law. The bill now goes to Democratic Gov. Jon Bel Edwards.
The Republican-controlled Wisconsin legislature passed similar legislation, but Democratic Gov. Tony Evers vetoed it in April.
Also, in May, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner sent a letter to Biden asking him to rescind the March 2021 executive order that called for every federal agency to work on expanding voter participation.
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“The executive order is a not-so-subtle effort to accomplish policies that have not progressed through the legitimate and appropriate legislative process by using unconstitutional executive overreach,” Warner wrote. “The federal government’s overreach into this function of state government is unnecessary, unprecedented, and unconstitutional.”
In 2021, Biden backed congressional Democrat House-passed bills to restrict state voter ID laws, require states to allow same-day voter registration, and expand mail-in voting. But the legislation died from a Senate filibuster.
State legislatures in Missouri and Mississippi considered such legislation, but it did not pass.
FILE – In this Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 file photo, Fulton County Georgia. election chief Richard Barron talks to reporters as workers scan ballots during a presidential recount in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
(AP Photo/Ben Gray, File)
“These states have taken the lead and we think other states should do the same,” Stewart Whitson, legal director for the watchdog group Foundation for Government Accountability, told Fox News Digital. “It is so important the state legislatures step up and fight back.”
The foundation, which has advocated for state officials to counter Biden’s executive order since last year, released a report last week comparing the Biden administration initiative to the nearly $400 million in election administration grants by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that many Republicans contend targeted Democrat turnout in the 2020 election.
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“The Biden administration is seeking to leverage the power and resources of the federal government to do what Zuckerbucks did during the 2020 election, only on a much larger scale. Instead of Zuckerbucks, it’s Bidenbucks,” said an FGA report issued titled “States Must Stand Guard Against Outside Influence in Elections.” It goes on to add, “Threats from outside influence in state election administration, especially federal overreach, are real and on the rise, underscoring the need for policymakers to act.”
State legislatures should also play a role, the FGA adds.
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“State lawmakers also have an important role to play in checking the power of the president and stopping this effort to sidestep state election laws,” the state legislature. “The best way to do this is to pass legislation that grants the state oversight and approval authority over three key areas of federal executive branch election meddling: guidance, communications, and funding.”
Federal agencies released various plans to implement Biden’s executive order:
- The Justice Department announced guidance for states to increase awareness of voting rights for convicted criminals, in compliance with Biden’s order.
- The Department of Homeland Security said it will focus on voter registration “at the end of naturalization ceremonies” for immigrants who become citizens.
- The Education Department said it will focus on “increasing civic engagement at the elementary school, secondary school, and higher education level, helping more than 67 million students.”
- The Department of Transportation will promote free transit services for voting.
- The Department of Housing and Urban Development will work with local public housing authorities on registering residents to vote.
The FGA report contends election administration should be left to state and local governments, and in some cases, acts of Congress.
“Nowhere is the president granted authority to interfere in the administration of elections, yet that is precisely what the current administration is attempting to do through executive order and agency guidance,” the report states.
“Secretaries of state and other state election officials can sound the alarm to make local election officials aware of these efforts, and ensure they are given the information and resources they need to comply with state election rules and procedures,” the FGA report continues. “In addition, state attorneys general can provide election administrators with legal advice to help them avoid inadvertently violating state election law based on misguidance provided by the federal government.”
The White House did not respond to Fox News Digital’s requests for comment on this story.
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When the Justice Department announced guidance in May to comply with the executive order, Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Civil Rights Division said in a statement: “The right to vote is the foundation of American democracy and it is critical for returning citizens to have reliable information concerning what voting rules apply after a criminal conviction.”
The FGA has made Freedom of Information Act requests to several executive branch agencies for more details on how Biden’s March 2021 executive order would be implemented.
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“With the lack of oversight and transparency, there is a genuine concern that this effort will primarily target Democrat strongholds to help turn out voters that the Biden administration believes are more likely to vote Democrat—much like Zuckerbucks did in the 2020 election,” the report continues. “If these concerns prove true, then this is a massive get-out-the-vote effort designed to benefit one political party all paid for by taxpayers. It is illegal, unethical, and unconstitutional.”