Back last year, the Democrats were doing all they could to grab federal control of elections. As you may recall, they were lying their heads off about Republicans wanting to suppress voters with laws like the law that passed in Georgia.
But the Democrats’ efforts failed. Instead, Joe Biden tried to go around Congress by signing Executive Order 14019.
The “Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting” reads like a Democratic Party wish-list of “reforms” that enshrines many of the practices that were adopted on a temporary basis during the pandemic-affected 2020 election. Its provisions include:
using federal agencies to promote voter registration;
using federal agencies to inform Americans about voting;
linking federal agency websites to state voter registration websites;
providing voter registration and vote-by-mail applications;
using “approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations” to register voters at federal agencies;
using identification documents issued by the agency to help people register to vote;
providing more multilingual services to potential voters;
giving public employees “time off to vote in Federal, State, local, Tribal, and territorial elections”; and
promoting voter registration for federal prisoners.
One provision states: “It is the responsibility of the Federal Government to expand access to, and education about, voter registration and election information, and to combat misinformation, in order to enable all eligible Americans to participate in our democracy.”
Anytime you see “combat misinformation,” alarm bells should be going off that there’s a problem. These two parts also make my hackles rise: “using “approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations” to register voters at federal agencies” and “using identification documents issued by the agency to help people register to vote.” They make me wonder what funny business could be going on there, not to mention what the federal government doing here in procedures that are handled by the state and local governments.
The Order directed all of the government to respond, including increasing voter registration among groups that have historically tended to vote more for Democrats.
“Black voters and other voters of color have faced discriminatory policies and other obstacles that disproportionately affect their communities,” the order said. “These voters remain more likely to face long lines at the polls and are disproportionately burdened by voter identification laws and limited opportunities to vote by mail.”
Biden’s order demanded that all federal agencies send the White House “a strategic plan outlining the ways identified under this review that the agency can promote voter registration and voter participation.” Now that doesn’t say much. Naturally, it might lead someone to think what does all this involve, particularly when it’s the replacement for the very objectionable effort to take over elections?
So the Foundation for Government Accountability sent a FOIA request in July 2021 to the DOJ asking what they were doing to comply with Biden’s order.
“Please provide your agency’s strategic plan developed pursuant to President Biden Executive Order 14019 … outlining ways you identified for your agency to promote voter registration and voter participation,” the request said.
But the DOJ refused to answer them. Finally, a judge had to order them to turn over the information, which they were supposed to do by Sept. 8, 2022. Yet, when that rolled around what they turned over was nothing, just some emails and a few documents about who would be attending what meetings. What was worse was they flat-out refused to turn over the strategic plan.
This is what the chief of the Freedom of Information branch of the Civil Rights Division told the foundation:
After review of the Civil Rights Division documents responsive to your request, the Division has identified (15) pages of material representing the STRATEGIC PLAN for the Implementation of Executive Order 14019, Promoting Access to Voting. I have determined that these materials are to be withheld in full pursuant to Exemption 5 of the Freedom of Information Act, 551(b)(5), which pertains to certain inter- and intra-agency records protected by civil discovery privileges, in this instance the deliberative process and presidential communications privileges.
To withhold the plan, the Justice Department relied on what has long been called the most abused exemption — Exemption 5, also known as (b)(5) — of the Freedom of Information Act. “This incredibly large cutout is often called the ‘withhold it because you want to’ exemption,” wrote journalist and FOIA advocate Nate Jones in 2014. “According to stats compiled by the Associated Press, (b)(5) use is at an all-time high.” Even though later reform reduced its use a little, Exemption 5 is still an indispensable tool for administrations seeking to hide what they are doing.
The little that they turned over even had all kinds of redactions.
So what is going on here when there should be nothing secret at all since this should all pertain to public elections? The fact that they want to hide it should be very concerning. The Constitution provides for the states to be in charge, not the federal government. When they don’t want you to see what they’re doing, you know that there’s a big problem.
“The American people deserve to know if the Biden administration’s unprecedented action is fair and non-partisan, or if it is designed to help one political party over the other,” Tarren Bragdon, head of the foundation, said in a statement. “Why are they ignoring public record requests for strategic plans on federal voter registration efforts? Why are they treating these documents like they are classified information dealing with nuclear weapons? Midterms are approaching, and the DOJ’s failure to disclose information raises troubling issues. They need to reveal these public documents to keep our elections fair.”
One troubling clue did make it past Justice Department censors. On July 12, 2021, the Justice Department held a “listening session” with outside activists working on voting rights. The group included dozens of people, all of them from left-leaning groups. There were 10 from the American Civil Liberties Union, five from the Campaign Legal Center, three from Demos, three from the Southern Poverty Law Center, five from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, two from Black Lives Matter, and many others. The list would not reassure anyone hoping that the Justice Department is working in a scrupulously nonpartisan way. But of course, we don’t really know what the department is doing because the administration is keeping it a secret.
Remember the TIME magazine story about the cabal that “saved the 2020 election”? Is that what’s going on here, now with all the power and money of the federal government behind it? If they are refusing to turn over the plans, one can only imagine just how bad it all is, since the election is around the corner and they’re not talking.