The Biden administration’s voter registration initiative may violate several federal laws, including one that prohibits agency employees from participating in political activities. However, legal experts who spoke with the Daily Caller News Foundation say the executive order’s lack of transparency makes it difficult to confirm.

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed an executive order directing federal agencies to find ways to promote voter registration and participation, partnering with nonprofits for get-out-the-vote efforts. This initiative, however, raises legal concerns about potentially violating federal laws, including the Hatch Act, which restricts certain federal employees from engaging in political activities, according to experts.

Election law attorney Audrey Perry Martin told the Daily Caller News Foundation that, depending on how it is implemented, the order could violate the Hatch Act. “If executive agencies accept volunteer services from third-party organizations with a partisan purpose to register voters, that would appear to violate the Hatch Act,” she said. “Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has not been forthcoming about the details of the plan and how it is being implemented, which makes it impossible to know if the Hatch Act, or other federal laws for that matter, are being violated.”

The order directs agencies to solicit “approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations and State officials to provide voter registration services on agency premises.” Based on records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project argued that the initiative was a “partisan voter mobilization effort” for Democratic groups, pointing to its “activist origins” and the organizations that participated in a “listening session” to help facilitate the order.


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Demos, a left-wing think tank whose founding members include former President Barack Obama, advocated a similar plan in December 2020 for utilizing executive action to advance ” civic participation for all Americans, particularly for Black and brown Americans.” On the day the order was published, it said it was “an important step forward on an initiative Demos promoted as a priority for the Biden-Harris administration during the presidential transition and has been a focal point of our work for years.”

Many of the groups present at a July 12, 2021, listening session on implementing the executive order were members of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. This coalition includes over 200 organizations, such as the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, according to the Oversight Project.

“The evidence from the listening session makes it seem more likely that Hatch Act violations are occurring,” Martin said. “If the Biden administration is only reaching out to left-leaning groups regarding the implementation of the Executive Order and federal agency attempts to register voters are targeted solely or primarily to Democratic voters through these left-leaning third-party organizations, that would be problematic under the Hatch Act.”

During the listening session, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) proposed using the Head Start federal preschool program for low-income families to register voters. Additionally, Demos suggested utilizing the Housing and Urban Development agency to register low-income voters seeking public housing, according to the Oversight Project, according to The Daily Caller.

“Depending on how federal agency staff and the partisan nonprofits handle the clients of these federal agencies, they could violate the Hatch Act if they are engaging in partisan statements, persuasion, intimidation, or coercion of these clients,” Hans von Spakovsky, senior legal fellow and manager of the Election Law Reform Initiative at the Heritage Foundation, told the outlet.

“This is particularly true of vulnerable members of the public who are applying for benefits at different agencies and are given the impression that if they don’t register, or don’t vote, or don’t support the political party controlling the White House and all of these federal agencies, that they won’t receive their government benefits,” he added.

But the Heritage expert is certain the order violates another law: the Anti-Deficiency Act, which “makes it a violation of the law for any federal employee to make any expenditure for anything that has not been appropriated for by Congress.” He added: “In other words, unless Congress authorized and appropriated funds for federal employees to engage in voter registration activities, they are violating the law.”

There has already been legal action filed against the order. Twenty-seven state legislators in Pennsylvania sued to block Biden’s order, along with actions by Democratic Governor Josh Shapiro and Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt, which they argue “violate the Electors Clause and Elections Clause by usurping the rights of the state legislators by changing Pennsylvania election laws via Executive Orders, edicts, and directives without the state legislators’ participation.”

“No aspect of Pennsylvania’s voter registration regime permits the President or the Executive Branch of the federal government—with the sole exception of voter registration efforts in military recruiting offices—to participate in or engage with voter registration in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” the lawsuit states.


Disclaimer: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.