Biden voter registration effort targets vulnerable Americans likely to vote Democrat, memos show

Evidence obtained by congressional investigators reveals sprawling federal effort targeting youth, farm workers and Native Americans and those seeking food stamps and job training.

Updated: October 31, 2022 - 11:36pm

Congressional investigators have obtained evidence that the Biden administration has launched a sprawling effort to use federally funded job training and food stamp programs to register new voters in Democrat-skewing demographic groups such as young adults and Native Americans, fueling concerns the federal government is placing a partisan thumb on the scales in the midterm elections.

Part of the plan, spurred by a 2021 executive order by President Joe Biden, is captured in an eight-page memo that the Labor Department's Employment and Training Administration sent out in March to state and local officials responsible for providing training to workers in need of jobs.

The memo explicitly authorizes states to use the American Job Center Network, a federally-funded job training program with more than 2,000 outlets nationwide, to facilitate voter registration among workers seeking its help, specifically targeting Native American, youth and farm workers.

"States may choose to designate American Job Centers (AJCs), a nationwide network of almost 2,400 locally-operated centers providing job training and employment services, as voter registration agencies," the memo stated. "Additionally, some DOL-funded programs operated in and out of AJCs can also assist individual participants in registering to vote."

The memo readily acknowledges the Labor Department is using for voter registration purposes programs created by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act that were "designed to help job seekers access employment, education, training, and support services to succeed in the labor market and to match employers with skilled workers."

The memo also explicitly authorizes federally funded job training centers to "develop a system for collecting and transporting voter registration forms," raising concerns among some about chain of custody for sensitive voter information.

"Voter registration staff are responsible for protecting voter registration forms; these forms include personal information and should be stored in a safe, secure location until the forms are transferred to election officials to avoid compromising that information," the memo noted.

Labor officials say they believe the voter outreach through job training programs is permitted by the 1993 National Voter Registration Act and that the goal is purely to "share nonpartisan information and resources."

"Please note: voter registration activities must not influence an applicant's political preference or party registration, display any political preference or party allegiance, make any statement or take any action to discourage the applicant from registering to vote, nor make any statement or take any action to lead the applicant to believe that a decision to register or not to register has any bearing on the availability of services or benefits," the memo stated.

But Republicans in Congress, led by Rep. Rodney Davis on the House Administration Committee, are raising concerns that the Biden executive order far exceeds the law and the efforts may be targeting vulnerable Americans in need of jobs in a way that could pressure them to register Democrat or feel beholden to the Biden administration.

"As laudable as expanding access to information about voter registration is, it is not under the purview of the more than 180 statutes that authorize DOL and its programs," Davis wrote Labor Secretary Marty Davis this summer. "... DOL has critical work to do on behalf of workers. It is inappropriate for DOL to turn its attention to issues for which it has not been statutorily directed to undertake." 

Rep. Andrew Clyde (R-Ga.) told Just the News on Monday that federal agencies are not supposed to be in the business of registering voters, something that should be controlled by states, and the Biden effort should be investigated if Republicans win control of the House.

He compared the federal agency effort in 2022 to a 2020 campaign funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg that funneled more than $300 million to local public election offices during the pandemic, disproportionately targeting blue urban areas and Democratic constituencies for voter registration and outreach efforts.  

"The federal government should not be influencing elections," Clyde told the John Solomon Reports podcast. "And that is what I see happening here. I think it's very worthy of oversight."

 

GOP House investigators are also concerned that Labor's efforts are targeting constituencies that traditionally have skewed Democrat in voting preferences. Exit polls showed 65% of young voters supported Biden in the 2020 election while Native Americans have been credited with swinging close races in 2018 and 2020, according to the Brookings Institution, a liberal think think tank.

The Labor memo clearly authorizes programs under the American Job Center Network that target those groups for voter registration efforts.

For instance, the memo states that "voter registration is an allowable activity" for the WIOA Title I Youth Program and the YouthBuild programs that target job assistance to young Americans. Likewise, the National Farmworker Jobs Program and Indian and Native American Programs are cleared to conduct voter registration.

The Native American programs are supposed to encourage "activities that include 'us[ing] program participants engaged in education, training, work experience, or similar activities to further the economic and social development of INA communities" but grant recipients can "choose" to "include using program participants to engage in voter registration activities," the memo stated.

Just the News reported Monday that another federal agency, the U.S. Agriculture Department, is focused on helping to register another vulnerable population, welfare recipients who receive food stamps.

Rep. Glenn Thompson (Pa.), the top Republican on the House Agriculture Committee, confirmed USDA's role in that effort. USDA believes the National Voter Registration Act 1993 requires it "to offer voter registration opportunities to any person who applies for or renews an application for public assistance, which includes the acceptance of the completed voter registration form and transmittal to State election officials," the agency wrote recently.

Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who leads the Amistad Project election integrity group that is policing conduct in the states and winning lawsuits, said the Biden administration efforts at Agriculture and Labor add to a growing concern among Americans that officials are "manipulating government to partisan advantage." 

Efforts focused on vulnerable populations such as welfare recipients or job training candidates are a concern "because those populations are strongly encouraged to believe the resources they receive from these government agencies are dependent on the appropriate vote," Kline explained.

Like Clyde, Kline said he believed the federal agency effort mirrored the "Zuckerbucks" strategy from 2020, which Kline's group helped expose.

"It appears the government got involved in targeting specific demographics," he said. "You are now seeing this administration getting its agencies to focus on populations that data will show are likely to vote Democrat, which means you have government playing a role in turning out voters likely to vote Democrat."