The Biden Justice Department continues to claim presidential privilege to block release of its strategic plan to turn out the vote, although at least two other federal agencies have made their plans public. 

In defending a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, the Justice Department is keeping under wraps its plans to implement President Joe Biden’s 2021 executive order, under which most federal agencies are required to develop a strategic plan for increasing voter participation in elections. 

The plaintiff in that case, the Foundation for Government Accountability, contends that privilege claim is undermined by two federal agencies releasing their plans to implement Biden’s Executive Order 14019, which he signed in March 2021. 

Notably, the U.S. Trade Representative, an agency that is part of the Executive Office of the President, made its plan public through a public records request, as The Daily Signal reported last week. 

The Railroad Retirement Board also released its strategic plan for boosting voting, The Daily Signal reported. 

“Now that at least two agencies have handed out their strategic plans, the Justice Department’s claim [that the plan] is protected by presidential privilege in our case is questionable,” Stewart Whitson, legal director for the Foundation for Government Accountability, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview.

The Foundation for Government Accountability first sued the Justice Department under the Freedom of Information Act in April 2022 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida. 

“The DOJ is supposed to be the arbiter of following the law, and they are doing the opposite,” Whitson said in the interview. 

My book “The Myth of Voter Suppression” details how executives at the liberal think tank Demos—one of the private groups working with federal agencies on voter turnout—drafted an executive order in December 2020, the month before Biden took office, suggesting how he should turn government bureaucracies into voter registration agencies. 

Possibly more ambiguous is the Defense Department, which said it updated an existing strategic plan to fit Biden’s executive order on voting. 

The Pentagon’s strategic plan isn’t dated, but appears to have been drafted in 2021 after Biden signed the order that March. The Defense Department, unlike most other federal agencies, consistently has dealt with voting issues for military personnel. 

The Justice Department didn’t respond to The Daily Signal’s inquiries for this report. Federal agencies frequently decline to comment on ongoing litigation. 

Publicly, however, the Justice Department said in an October 2022 court filing that releasing documents about its strategic plan to implement Biden’s order could cause “public confusion.” 

“To qualify for protection under this privilege, material must be inter- or intra-agency, and both pre-decisional and deliberative,” the Justice Department’s motion in the lawsuit says.

In a March 3 speech, Attorney General Merrick Garland said voter ID and other election reforms were “discriminatory, burdensome and unnecessary,” and that the Justice Department would “fight back” against such measures. 

Numerous House and Senate Republicans have sought information about the documents related to Biden’s order telling government agencies to register voters. 

Critics have said the order could cause federal employees to engage in illegal activity by participating in elective politics. They point to potential violation of the Hatch Act, a law prohibiting partisan political activity using government time or resources, and the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits executive branch agencies from spending money for purposes not designated by Congress.

The Department of Education released a “toolkit” to expand voting among college students and to provide information about voting for students in grades K-12.

Also under Biden’s initiative, the Department of Homeland Security registers new voters during naturalization ceremonies. It’s not clear what else the DHS—which also is charged with stopping illegal immigration—has done to implement Biden’s executive order. 

As The Daily Signal previously reported, the Biden administration carved out paid administrative leave to encourage federal bureaucrats—seen as a loyal Democrat constituency—to volunteer as poll workers during elections. 

The Daily Signal also reported that federal agencies are working to carry out Biden’s order on voting with Demos and other liberal advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union

In 2021, the White House announced that the Justice Department would focus on the Bureau of Prisons to “provide information about voting to individuals in federal custody, facilitate voting by those who remain eligible to do so while in federal custody, and educate individuals before reentry about voting rules and voting rights in their states.” 

The Biden administration has made little other information available, however. 

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