President Biden is ordering all agencies in the federal bureaucracy to “expand citizens’ opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process.” That language, from a March 2021 executive order titled “Promoting Access to Voting,” may sound benign. It isn’t, and it may conceal an abuse of power. The administration is making it difficult for the public to find out.
Promoting voter registration and participation—i.e., mobilizing voters—is an inherently political act for a partisan president. The resulting efforts can be directed at groups expected to vote for the president’s party and may take the form of pressure to support the party or its policies. A president has every right to sway potential voters on the campaign trail. He has no right to influence them using the force of the federal government.