Despite promises of transparency, the Biden administration is hiding its plans to undermine state control over election laws. Last spring, the White House issued Executive Order (EO) 14019, “Promoting Access to the Vote.” The EO required each federal agency to submit a plan to register voters and encourage voter participation. He also required agencies to develop strategies for inviting non-governmental third parties to register voters.
So far few details have been released – and naturally there are questions. What will these plans include? To what extent and why will federal agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Defense, Bureau of Land Management and others be involved in ballot campaigns? Who will determine whether third parties chosen to register voters are appropriately non-partisan?
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) responded to growing concerns about ambiguity and radio silence over the details of this EO by submitting a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in July 2021. We wanted answers to quite reasonable questions about the EO, but the administration ignored our FOIA request.
To date, no federal agency has responded with the documents we requested. What is the administration trying to hide?
We have an answer: their silence is an attempt to get America to look the other way as they illegally get involved in state elections, which is far, far beyond the constitutional competence of the executive.
It is not difficult to see the motive behind this executive order. In the 2020 election, Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg funneled more than $350 million — “Zuckbucks” — to the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which was later sent to election officials across the country. Although it was meant to be an aid in running elections during Covid-19, most jurisdictions used it for get-out-the-vote efforts. The funds were also directed to predominantly Democratic districts and had the effect of boosting voter turnout in left-leaning areas.
Zuckbucks happened because there were no laws preventing it from happening. Once the extent of Zuckbucks was revealed, states moved to ban third-party funding in future elections. Several states have also closed other loopholes and strengthened protections to end any potential interference in local elections.
Attempts to block state efforts failed in Congress, so this EO became the administration’s only option as a backdoor to state elections.
Although state legislatures are taking their election security into their own hands, as they are expressly elected to do, the Biden administration is heavily weaponizing the executive branch and encroaching on state elections, where it does not belong and does not belong. is not authorized by the Constitution. This violates the separation of powers enshrined in our Constitution and is clearly at odds with the election and election clauses of the US Constitution.
The president does not have the legal authority required for the executive branch to intervene in elections in the manner ordered by EO 14019. This means that federal agencies that comply with this order will surely exceed the scope of their authority, which will allow either Congress to intervene or the states to sue.
FGA takes a logical step in obtaining the transparency so promised by the administration. On April 20, we filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in the Central District of Florida to compel them to provide us with answers to pressing questions about the plans and strategies involved in this EO.
Time is running out – the midterm elections are less than six months away. Yet when asked about an EO that essentially transforms the day-to-day activities of federal government agencies into voter registration and mobilization campaigns, the American people are met with silence from the White House.
Americans should ask themselves what the administration is trying to hide with its evasion. And every American voter should demand answers and the transparency originally promised by this administration.
Chase Martin is the director of legal affairs for the Foundation for Government Accountability.