WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Aug. 3, 15 Republican secretaries of state sent a letter to President Joe Biden, asking him to rescind his executive order that aimed to expand voter access. Biden issued Executive Order 14019 in March 2021, ordering federal government agencies to increase access to and information about voter registration and elections. The order calls on certain agencies to maximize participation under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act, modernize Vote.gov and asks the federal government, as the nation’s largest employer, to model how employers can encourage their employees’ civic participation. Finally, Biden calls on relevant agencies to design recommendations to maximize participation for voters with disabilities, active duty military and overseas citizens, eligible voters incarcerated in federal custody and Native American voters.
The top election officials in 15 states — Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wyoming — signed the letter and are all Republican leaders. The letter asserts that the executive order was issued without constitutional authority nor congressional approval. The signatories point to the U.S. Constitution’s Elections Clause that designates that the “time, places and manner” of holding elections is the responsibility of state legislatures or Congress, not the executive branch. “Involving Federal agencies in the registration process will produce duplicate registrations, confuse citizens, and complicate the jobs of our county clerks and election officials,” wrote the secretaries of states, several of whom are actively defending their state’s voter suppression laws and gerrymandered maps in court.