Federalizing Elections Will Make Government Bigger and Voters’ Voices Smaller

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When President Biden took office, he promised to “bring transparency and truth back to the government.” It’s a nice sentiment, but it isn’t holding up in practice—and the latest example is Executive Order (EO) 14019.

This executive order is a gross federal overreach and an unlawful attempt to federalize state and local elections by circumventing duly elected legislatures. And ultimately, it exposes the Biden administration’s commitment to transparency as a sham.

What Executive Order 14019 Will Do

There are several main provisions of the executive order, all of which serve to place more power over elections into the hands of the federal government:

  • It requires every federal agency to submit to Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice a plan to register voters and encourage participation. Now, more than 600 federal agencies—from the Department of Defense to the Environmental Protection Agency to the National Park Service—are in the business of registering voters. 
  • It asks agencies to develop a strategy to invite and support non-government groups to register voters and to provide absentee ballot applications from federal agency offices.

The executive order is speciously named “Promoting Access to Voting,” but in reality, this power grab will silence voters and undermine election integrity.

Three Key Takeaways

The executive order circumvents duly elected legislatures.The 2020 election and the expansion of absentee and vote-by-mail ballots exposed vulnerabilities in the election processes of many states. Since then, states like Georgia, Idaho, Arkansas, and Arizona have passed commonsense legislation to protect eligible voters and improve transparency by securing voter registration and absentee ballots. This executive order dances around and trounces upon the progress states have made.

Federalizing elections takes power away from voters.The Biden administration isn’t ensuring access to voting. Rather, they’re giving the federal government—and by extension, the majority party—deeper and more far-reaching control over elections. This executive order expands voter registration and absentee ballot voting without securing the process and addressing vulnerabilities—it’s like sailing out to sea while ignoring a gaping hole in the ship’s stern.

The executive order clouds transparency.The Biden administration says it wants transparency, but actions speak louder than words. This executive order invites federal agencies to coordinate with outside groups to register voters. There are no details as to who these “non-government groups” would be, who would approve them, or what this “support” would entail. It’s a glaring opportunity for opaque conflicts of interest and questionable tactics.

Read More on Executive Order 14019 from FGA

Executive Order 14019 gives the federal government a more intrusive arm into elections—encroaching on what should be in the purview of state and local election offices. This power grab is also wildly unpopular among voters: 69 percent are less likely to support the executive order when they know it could give the White House partisan political power over elections.

As FGA Legal Affairs Fellow Stewart Whitson says, “State attorneys general across the nation should ready themselves to defend their states from the federal overreach that is headed their way.”

Read FGA’s most recent statement on Executive Order 14019 here.