In the lead-up to the 2022 midterms, President Joe Biden had American universities use taxpayer-funded Federal Work Study programs to pay college students to engage in voter registration campaigns for the benefit of Democrats.
“[O]n its face, you have to question whether this is legal or not,” Thomas Jones, president of the American Accountability Foundation, told The Federalist. “Their target audience here, college students, is overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic, so you have to question whether ‘non-partisan’ is really non-partisan.”
Last April, the Biden administration told universities they are required under the Higher Education Act of 1965 to “make a good faith effort” to make mail voter registration forms “widely available” to their students. But the president’s acting assistant secretary for the Office of Postsecondary Education, Michelle Asha Cooper, went much further, claiming that as part of such efforts to increase voter registration among their students, universities may use work-study funds — which are used to provide part-time campus jobs to help students with tuition costs — to pay students to “support voter registration activities.”
Having taxpayers fund get-out-the-vote activities that support Democrats in this way had previously not been allowed.
“If a student is employed directly by a postsecondary institution, the institution may compensate a student for [Federal Work Study] employment involving voter registration activities that take place on or off-campus,” Cooper’s letter reads.
Cooper directed colleges to expand their roles in the electoral process, such as by becoming voting sites and supplying locations for ballot drop boxes. She told colleges and universities to coordinate their activities with local election officials.
Jones said such instructions were “problematic,” adding that the use of work-study funds to facilitate college voter registration campaigns is clearly a way for the left to “harvest young liberal votes.”
The work-study scheme was just one of many ways the Biden administration had agencies get involved in voting activities that benefit the Democrat Party.
In fact, in March 2021, President Joe Biden issued an executive order requiring federal agencies to interfere in state election processes. Despite legal efforts by government watchdog groups to uncover how federal departments intended to implement the order in the lead-up to the 2022 elections, the Biden administration has continued to conceal nearly all related documents.
A Concerted Effort to Boost Democrat Turnout
The taxpayer-funded work-study scheme complemented the activities of an array of left-wing nonprofit groups to boost Democrat Party votes on college campuses.
Among the most notable of these groups is an organization known as Civic Nation, a nonprofit headed by Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to President Barack Obama. According to its website, Civic Nation’s stated mission is to “empower” individuals and entities “to create a more inclusive, equitable America” through the use of multiple “national initiatives” that seek to “activate and train people to organize within their communities.” One of these active enterprises is an initiative known as the “ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge,” which was established in 2016 to encourage colleges to increase voter participation among students.
With nearly 1,000 participating universities across 50 states and the District of Columbia, ALL IN challenges colleges to form campus-wide committees, which are comprised of both students and administration members. Once established, the working group is tasked with developing an “action plan” that lays out how the college plans to raise “student voting rates and help students form the habits of active and engaged citizenship.”
Universities and individuals that demonstrate “exemplary leadership” in accomplishing such goals are rewarded for their efforts with a variety of seals and awards.
ALL IN is a Democrat Venture
While ALL IN claims to be a nonpartisan venture, a deeper dive into its messaging tells a different story. In a fact sheet for students released ahead of the 2022 midterms, for instance, ALL IN parrots a variety of talking points regularly espoused by Democrat politicos.
Included on a list of what it asserts are “barriers” that make it more difficult for students to vote are concepts such as “strict voter ID requirements.” Also enclosed within the list are baseless claims that “young voters of color” are “at risk of not being able to solve issues with their ballot” because they’re “more likely to return their absentee ballots just a few days before or on Election Day.”
But it’s not just ALL IN’s rhetoric that exemplifies its left-wing partisanship. A quick glance at the backgrounds of some of the initiative’s key players reveals that the campaign is stacked with Democrat ideologues.
Take, for example, Alicia Kolar Prevost, who is one of ALL IN’s founding advisory board members. In addition to serving in the Clinton administration, Prevost previously worked at the Democratic National Committee and the 2000 and 2004 Democratic National Conventions.
Visitors to Prevost’s Twitter account will also find several retweets of high-profile Democrats such as New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, as well as a post from 2017 in which Prevost — while quoting an article about Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election — asks whether former President Donald Trump should have an asterisk next to his presidency.
Also listed as a founding ALL IN board member is Martha Kanter, who was the U.S. under secretary of education during the Obama administration from 2009-2013. Kanter is currently the executive director of the College Promise Campaign, a nonprofit aiming to make college “free” for postsecondary students. According to its website, the group partners with numerous left-wing organizations such as the Biden Foundation and the National Education Association.
Republicans Must Engage Young Voters
While states such as California are still tabulating votes over a week after Election Day, early figures seem to indicate that Biden and Democrats’ organized strategy of courting Gen Z voters paid off. According to preliminary data from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University, 27 percent of young people (ages 18-29) turned out to vote in the 2022 elections, falling just shy of the record 31 percent seen in 2018. The department also estimates that these voters broke overwhelmingly for Democrat candidates (63 percent) over Republican ones (35 percent).
As correctly pointed out by The Federalist’s Evita Duffy, unlike Democrats, Republicans made no concentrated attempts to appeal to college voters heading into the 2022 midterms. Despite Democrats’ support of unscientific and crushing Covid mandates that robbed low-risk, young voters of some of the best years of their lives, Republicans refused to take advantage of the issue and instead chose to dismiss Gen Z as a lost cause unworthy of wooing.
Whether the GOP wants to admit it, appealing to younger generations will be necessary to win future elections. While bribing them with claims to “cancel” student loans certainly isn’t the answer, crafting coherent and pragmatic messaging that appeals to younger generations must be a priority for Republican candidates and organizations going forward. Simply abandoning these kids to the radicalism of Democrats will not just have devastating effects on Republicans’ electoral prospects, but on the long-term viability of the country.