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As More GOP Officials Refuse To Follow Biden’s Federal Election Takeover, Others Are Mum

The Federalist asked GOP election officials if they will follow suit and reject voter registration forms collected by federal agents.

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As America edges closer to the November 2024 presidential contest, concerns about President Biden’s federal election interference are growing among GOP election officials.

Throughout the past several weeks, Secretaries of State Mac Warner of West Virginia and Michael Watson of Mississippi have warned about the effects “Bidenbucks” will have on 2024 state and local election administration. Signed by Biden in March 2021, Executive Order 14019 directed hundreds of federal agencies to interfere in the electoral process by using U.S. taxpayer dollars to boost voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities.

Under the edict, each department was directed to draft “a strategic plan” explaining how it intended to fulfill Biden’s order, 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.” Many of these “nonpartisan” groups colluding with federal agencies on voter registration efforts have since been revealed to be extremely left-wing, such as the ACLU and Demos.

Federal agencies such as the Justice Department have 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. A White House official purportedly admitted to Watson during a recent phone call that the administration “never intended for [agencies’ strategic plans] to be public.”

The infringement upon states’ ability to operate elections free of federal interference prompted Warner to adopt a policy in which his office will refuse to “accept voter registration forms collected by Federal agents.” Warner cited 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 told The Federalist last week his office will be adopting Warner’s approach.

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

Given Warner and Watson’s commitment to stymying federal interference in state election administration, The Federalist reached out to other leading state GOP election officials to find out whether they will follow suit and reject voter registration forms collected by federal agents.

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan told The Federalist the Granite State “has a statutory process for voter registration that does not include federal agencies collecting voter registration applications” and that Biden’s executive order “will not apply in New Hampshire.”

Scanlan added that his office “will not accept any voter registration forms from federal agents.”

Alabama Secretary of State Wes Allen similarly committed to take action against potential illegalities committed under the guise of Executive Order 14019, which he told The Federalist is “an illegal directive that attempts to circumvent established law” and represents a federal takeover of voter registration.

“At this time, I am unaware of any actual EO14019 illegal efforts being undertaken in the State of Alabama,” Allen said. “In the event that illegal activity is discovered in Alabama, even if it is directed by the White House, I assure you that I will fully uphold my Oath of Office and apply the law.”

When pressed on whether this “illegal activity” Allen promised not to tolerate would include federal agencies collecting and submitting voter registrations, Director of Communications Laney Rawls said: “Alabama has authorized by law only those entities specifically included in the Code of Alabama to serve as voter registration agencies” and “[n]owhere in Alabama law are federal agencies designated as voter registration agencies.”

“Therefore, any federal agencies operating as designated voter registration agencies in Alabama are operating illegally,” she added.

Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray told The Federalist that “Wyoming Statute enumerates the registration process through the state and counties, not unelected, federal bureaucracies” and that “Wyoming does not and will not accept the National Mail Voter Registration Form.”

“The United States Constitution clearly stipulates that election administration, including registration, shall be prescribed by state law, not unlawful, unconstitutional, and overreaching executive orders, like Executive Order 14019,” Gray said. The Republican secretary did not respond to The Federalist’s immediate request for comment on whether this means his office will reject voter registration forms it can prove were collected and submitted by federal agents, regardless of which type of form they are.

Other Republican election officials claimed to The Federalist that their respective state laws prevent them from adopting Warner’s policy.

Responding on behalf of North Dakota Secretary of State Michael Howe, Election Specialist Lee Ann Oliver told The Federalist that because “North Dakota is the only state that does not have voter registration,” the question of whether Howe will reject voter registration forms collected by federal agents “does not pertain to our state.”

The Peace Garden State officially outlawed voter registration in 1951. When casting a ballot, electors are required to present an acceptable form of ID. The voter is then authorized to vote once his or her information has been verified by election workers using the election board’s voting list.

Meanwhile, Press Secretary Benjamin Kindel told The Federalist that Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose’s office would accept voter registration forms collected and submitted by federal officials. Kindel cited state law, which, according to the Ohio Election Official Manual, allows for third parties to return a “completed voter registration form on behalf of another” to the secretary’s office or a local election board within 10 days.

“Ohio has a decentralized system and … the processing of these registration forms is done at the local level,” Kindel said.

Unlike most states, in which elections are overseen by a secretary of state, South Carolina’s elections are administered by a state board. John Michael Catalano, the public information officer for the South Carolina State Election Commission, said the body would accept voter registration applications, even if it was determined they were collected and submitted to local election officials by federal agents.

“While we are not aware of federal agents submitting voter registration forms to election officials in South Carolina, state law requires county election officials to accept and process completed voter registration applications for eligible South Carolina residents,” Catalano said. “Any applicant convicted of fraudulently applying for registration is guilty of perjury and is subject to the penalty for that offense.”

The offices of Secretaries of State Jay Ashcroft of Missouri, Cord Byrd of Florida, and Nancy Landry of Louisiana acknowledged The Federalist’s inquiry but did not provide comment prior to publication time.

Leading Republican election officials from Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Virginia did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment on whether they will adopt Warner’s policy of rejecting voter registration forms collected by federal agents.

It’s worth mentioning Pennsylvania Secretary of State Al Schmidt — who did not respond to The Federalist’s inquiry — is a defendant in an ongoing lawsuit challenging the legality of Executive Order 14019. Filed by members of the Pennsylvania Freedom Caucus, the suit argues that the “Bidenbucks” order violates the U.S. Constitution. Plaintiffs filed an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Of the officials who did not respond or provide comment by publication time, six signed onto a letter sent to Biden in August 2022 demanding he rescind Executive Order 14019. Those signatories included Secretaries Brad Raffensperger of Georgia, John Thurston of Arkansas, Cord Byrd of Florida, Christi Jacobsen of Montana, Bob Evnen of Nebraska, and Tre Hargett of Tennessee.

Warner of West Virginia, Watson of Mississippi, and LaRose of Ohio were also among those who signed the letter.

Update, April 29:

The Oklahoma State Election Board also told The Federalist it will accept forms collected by federal agents.

State law requires county election boards to accept both the Oklahoma Voter Registration Application and the National Mail Voter Registration Form (or Federal Voter Registration Application,” Public Information Officer Misha Mohr said. “Oklahoma election officials will accept applications for voter registration if they are submitted using the appropriate form and meet the requirements of the law.”

Mohr cited various factors that could result in a form’s rejection, such as if the application is unsigned or “appears to duplicate an existing or pending application.” A form may also be rejected if the applicant “does not meet age requirements to register or pre-register” or “has provided an insufficient address, name, date of birth, or identification number.”


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