DS EXCLUSIVE: Demos, ACLU Among ‘Voter Advocacy Groups’ Helping Federal Agencies Turn Out Vote on Biden’s Order
FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL — The American Civil Liberties Union and the liberal think tank Demos are among “voter advocacy groups” assisting at least one federal agency in implementing President Joe Biden’s executive order requiring the government to register voters, The Daily Signal has learned.
Indian Health Service, which assists American Indians as part of the Department of Health and Human Services, told The Daily Signal on Wednesday that organizations helping it to register and turn out voters under Biden’s initiative include the ACLU, Demos, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Native American Rights Fund.
As previously reported by The Daily Signal, Biden’s Executive Order 14019, titled “Promoting Access to Voting,” states that federal agencies will “promote voter registration and voter participation.”
The effort includes “soliciting and facilitating approved, nonpartisan third-party organizations and state officials to provide voter registration services on agency premises.”
Arguably, Democrat candidates and causes would benefit from a get-out-the-vote drive led by a Democrat president.
Republican lawmakers and government watchdog groups have questioned whether Biden’s directive putting the power of the federal government behind shaping election outcomes would prompt federal employees to violate the Hatch Act, a law prohibiting federal employees from engaging in political activity on government time or with taxpayer resources.
Despite calls for disclosure from Congress and watchdog groups, until now no Biden administration agency had revealed which nonprofit organizations are working with them to carry out the president’s order to get out the vote.
This has made it difficult to know whether partisan groups, or organizations aligned with Biden administration policies, are involved in taxpayer-backed actions that could affect election outcomes.
Indian Health Service’s response to The Daily Signal’s request for information has changed that, at least on a small scale.
“As part of efforts to promote awareness of national voter registration resources, the Indian Health Services has worked with groups such as the National Congress of American Indians, the Native American Rights Fund, Demos, and the ACLU,” Joshuah Marshall, senior adviser to IHS Director Roselyn Tso, told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday afternoon.
This comes as little surprise to Stewart Whitson, legal director at the Foundation for Government Accountability, a conservative watchdog group that is suing the Justice Department for public records over implementation of Biden’s order.
“This latest revelation is further proof that radical leftist groups are coaching agency bureaucrats to execute the ‘Bidenbucks’ scheme across the country,” Whitson told The Daily Signal in an email Wednesday afternoon. “Team Biden has handed these radical groups the power, taxpayer-funded resources, and reach of the federal executive branch to carry out a get-out-the-vote effort designed by the Left, to benefit the Left.”
The Daily Signal sought comment late Wednesday from both the ACLU and Demos on their roles, and will update this report upon receiving responses.
A coalition of over 50 left-wing groups led by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights recently slammed Indian Health Service for “falling behind” in boosting voter turnout under Biden’s order. The coalition included the ACLU and Demos.
Indian Health Service says it is in compliance with Biden’s directive, but the agency’s lack of documents responsive to a public records request by The Daily Signal appear to back up the left-wing organizations’ criticism.
On March 29, marking the two-year anniversary of Biden’s order, the coalition of left-wing groups faulted Indian Health Service and two other agencies for a lack of progress.
The other agencies flagged by the left-wing coalition as “falling behind” are the entire Department of Education and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a division of the Department of Homeland Security.
Biden’s order has been controversial largely for a lack of transparency, as several government agencies refused to provide information to members of Congress and leaders of watchdog groups who are concerned that public resources are being used to support a partisan, get-out-the-vote effort for Democrats.
Indian Health Service last week responded to a Daily Signal request for documents under the Freedom of Information Act, first filed in 2022, by stating: “Your request was processed pursuant to the FOIA and HHS regulations. After a thorough search of our electronic data files, we did not locate records responsive to your request.”
The Daily Signal had sought Indian Health Service’s strategic plan to implement Biden’s executive order and any information on the agency’s criteria for selecting nonprofit organizations to work with it to achieve the goals of the order.
After receiving this response, The Daily Signal asked for an on-the-record comment from Indian Health Service’s public affairs office.
In an email Monday, IHS’ Marshall wrote: “The Indian Health Services is complying with Executive Order 14019.” Marshall added:
As part of efforts to promote awareness of national voter registration resources, the IHS has posted information on the IHS website and on social media, and has participated in collaboration calls with other federal agencies, tribal organizations, and voter advocacy groups to identify best and promising practices that could be considered by the IHS and shared with tribal communities.
The same emailed statement referred to a White House press release in March marking two years since Biden signed the order.
In part, that release said: “The Indian Health Service (IHS) will promote access to voting in Indian Country by piloting high-quality voter registration services to patients across five IHS facilities by the end [of] 2023.”
In a “progress report” on Biden’s order, the coalition of left-wing groups concluded that Indian Health Service, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Education Department are all “falling behind” in the effort to register and turn out voters.
The report goes on to say:
Unfortunately, there is no evidence to date that IHS has done any work to follow through on this commitment, which would be transformative for increasing voter access in Indigenous communities, where eligible voters face some of the highest hurdles to voting and experience some of the lowest registration rates in the country.
IHS serves approximately 2.6 million American Indian and Alaska Native people each year, many of whom are not registered to vote and would likely take advantage of the opportunity to register alongside their routine visits to IHS-run and tribally run facilities … .
Copyright 2023 The Daily Signal