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Elections Chief Probes ‘Bidenbucks’ In Mississippi, Won’t Accept Forms Collected By ‘Unlawful’ Scheme

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Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson is exploring potential actions to fight back against President Joe Biden’s “unlawful” federal election interference, The Federalist has learned.

“There’s nothing wrong with registering people to vote … but there’s a legal way to do it,” Watson told The Federalist.

Signed by Biden in March 2021, Executive Order 14019 directed hundreds of federal agencies to interfere in state and local election administration by using U.S. taxpayer dollars to boost voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities. Each department was directed to draft “a strategic plan” explaining how it intended to fulfill Biden’s edict, and to collaborate with so-called “nonpartisan third-party organizations” that have been “approved” by the administration to supply “voter registration services on agency premises.”

The DOJ has regularly stonewalled requests for documents related to the order’s implementation, even going as far as to heavily redact records ordered for release by a federal court.

In an op-ed published last week, Watson detailed a recent exchange he had with a White House official who, as the secretary described, admitted that the administration “never intended for [agencies’ strategic plans] to be public.” Watson was one of 15 secretaries of state to sign onto a letter sent to Biden in August 2022 that urged the president to rescind Executive Order 14019.

The admission from the White House “is incredibly troublesome,” Watson said. “It’s weaponization of the federal government” to interfere in state administration of elections.

Watson said he asked that same White House official during the aforementioned phone call what right-leaning “third-party organizations” the administration had reached out to regarding voter registration efforts. Conservative media outlets and good government groups have obtained communications revealing that many of the supposedly “nonpartisan” groups colluding with federal agencies on voter registration efforts are extremely left-wing, such as the ACLU and Demos.

“The answer was, ‘We’re happy to work with anyone,'” Watson claimed, noting that he thought: “[sure,] of course you are, but you [just] aren’t willing to.”

“That’s something the American people should be concerned with,” Watson added.

Given the unprecedented nature of Biden’s directive, Watson is exploring several options to protect state and local election administration in Mississippi.

The Republican secretary confirmed he plans to adopt an approach recently taken up by West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner. The Mountain State’s leading election official revealed last week that his office will not “accept voter registration forms collected by Federal agents,” citing Article 1 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which stipulates that the “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof.”

Watson added, however, that his office will “go the extra mile to follow up with those voters and help them register properly.”

The secretary also revealed he is looking at potentially filing an amicus brief in support of a lawsuit challenging the legality of Executive Order 14019. The suit was filed by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers against Biden and Democrat Gov. Josh Shapiro in January. While a federal judge dismissed the suit over lack of standing last month, plaintiffs recently told The Federalist they plan to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Watson further noted efforts by his office to uncover collaboration between the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Mississippi jails on voter registration activities. In a letter sent to Attorney General Merrick Garland last month, Watson expressed concern that the DOJ’s efforts to comply with Biden’s order “have led to agencies under [Garland’s] charge attempting to register people to vote, including potentially ineligible felons and to coopt state and local officials into accomplishing this goal.”

According to Watson, the U.S. Marshals Service — which falls under the DOJ — is altering existing agreements with jails to comply with Biden’s directive, now requiring these facilities “to provide voter registration materials and facilitate voting by mail.” The secretary noted how this “creates numerous opportunities for ineligible prisoners to be registered to vote in Mississippi.”

The DOJ has brushed off open records requests submitted by Watson regarding “any communication between DOJ officials and any jail or detention facility in Mississippi,” claiming these requests are “overly broad.” Watson told The Federalist his office is currently drafting letters to every federal office and prison operating in Mississippi to probe them about their compliance with Biden’s executive order.

“We want people to register to vote, but obviously we want it to be done legally and under legal authority,” he said.


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