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Why West Virginia’s Secretary Of State Won’t Follow Biden’s ‘Illegal Directives’ Federalizing Elections

A voter registration tent on the LSU campus.
Image CreditLSU Tiger TV / Youtube 

Mac Warner says he doesn’t want to put local elections officials in the middle of the ‘illegal’ Bidenbucks directives.

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West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner has put the Biden administration on notice: The Mountain State doesn’t intend to enforce their “unconstitutional orders.”

Warner and Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson are leading the pushback against Biden’s Executive Order 14019, which commands federal agencies to work with state and local governments to register voters and facilitate get-out-the-vote initiatives targeting left-leaning voters. Biden’s fiat directs “approved” third-party organizations to “partner” in the GOTV campaign. The effort is referred to as “Bidenbucks,” a nod to Zuckbucks, the piles of private donations that Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg dropped on local election administration in 2020.

Critics contend the executive order is unconstitutional because Congress never appropriated federal funding for local voter registration, while federal bureaucrats are doing the election work that states — not the federal government — are authorized to do. 

“What we’re trying to do is let the administration know we do not intend to follow their illegal directives,” Warner told The Federalist in an interview last week. 

That begins with West Virginia not accepting registrations coming out of the Bidenbucks initiative, Warner said. The secretary cited Article 1 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, which gives states and their legislatures the authority to prescribe “Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives.”

He added that the county clerks are already concerned that the federalization of voter registration will increase their workload and create numerous duplicate registrations. 

“Somebody might already be registered and then they go in for SNAP or another federal assistance program and they get registered again,” the Republican secretary of state said. “Now you have a double registration, and the clerks have to take time to go and sort it out.” 

He said he doesn’t want to put local elections officials in the middle of trying to determine which registration is the proper one, particularly when they’re dealing with constitutionally questionable forms spurred by a meddling federal government. 

“We’re not going to accept these registrations,” Warner added. 

What’s the Biden Administration Hiding? 

Galling conservative state elections officials, the Biden administration refuses to release details on the implementation of the order, which has ramped up in recent weeks as the presidential election draws ever closer and Biden’s poll numbers slump. 

As my Federalist colleague Shawn Fleetwood reported last week, Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson is likewise exploring actions to push back against Bidenbucks. 

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

In an op-ed, Watson described a recent discussion with a White House official who confirmed that the administration “never intended for [the federal agencies’ strategic plans] to be public.”

Watson called the admission “incredibly troublesome,” and he views the Bidenbucks stratagem as a “weaponization of the federal government.”

The Republican secretary said he, too, will instruct election officials to not accept voter registration forms collected from the federal effort. 

As The Federalist reported: 

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.”

While the White House has been working with leftist nonprofit organizations on the rollout, including the ACLU and Demos, it’s clear conservative voter integrity groups haven’t been invited to the party. No wonder the executive order has been described as “Zuckerbucks on steroids.” 

‘Outside the Law’

The utter lack of transparency should come as little surprise. Biden administration officials have been loathe to turn over documents tied to the executive order. The Foundation for Government Accountability, which sued Biden’s Department of Justice, has been waiting for two years for administration officials to follow the law and release the records. 

“To date, DOJ has steadfastly refused to turn over its 15-page strategic plan to carry out EO 14019, claiming the plan is exempted from disclosure under FOIA and that releasing it would only ‘confuse the public.’ Both claims are false,” the FGA states in a press release asking the salient question, “What is President Biden hiding?” 

In 2022, Warner led a coalition of 14 other secretaries of state in sending a letter to the White House calling on Biden to rescind his unconstitutional directive. He said he’s heard nothing from the administration on the letter. 

Warner said he’s reaching back out to the coalition and other state elections officials about joining an amicus brief in a federal lawsuit against Bidenbucks. As The Federalist has reported, that lawsuit is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court soon. 

“I’m a lawyer and one of the first things you learn in law school is the law is process,” he said, adding that the Biden administration has not followed the process of the law in insinuating the federal government into elections. 

“It sounds like it’s a good thing. I mean, who would be against registering voters to vote? But if it comes in outside the law, well that’s what America should be addressing now. What do you do with a ballot that comes from outside the law?” 


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