FIRST ON THE DAILY SIGNAL—Aides to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra routinely inquired about how at least one agency under his control was putting President Joe Biden’s executive order on elections into action. 

At least one message suggested that Becerra’s office and the agency within HHS wanted to know whether private organizations that received government grants were working to get out the vote through public service announcements or other means. 

On Nov. 30, 2021, two months after the White House announced a vague description of how federal agencies would implement Biden’s executive order on turning out the vote, Anna Perng, a special assistant in HHS’ Administration for Community Living, emailed colleagues to say that the department’s Immediate Office of the Secretary wanted monthly updates.

“IOS [Immediate Office of the Secretary] gently reminded me to update EO 14019 Promoting Voting Access milestones this Friday, 12/3. I had thought tha[t] [REDACTED].”

The Administration for Community Living focuses on issues important to senior citizens and disabled Americans. The White House previously announced that the agency would be a “voting access hub.”

On Dec. 15, 2021, Perng sent another email to ACL staff.

“It is our favorite time of the month: IOS is looking for updates on these milestones by this Friday. Are there any changes to the following?” Perng wrote in part. 

Perng emailed ACL colleagues on March 3, 2022, with another reminder. 

“IOS is requesting a status update on the EO Promoting Voting Access milestones by tomorrow COB,” Perng wrote. She continued: “For example, I know that there are primaries underway. ACL had said we would share/retweet/repost promote grantees’ voting resources. Have grantees created any voting materials, PSAs, etc.?”

The Daily Signal obtained 159 pages of heavily redacted documents from the Administration for Community Living through a request submitted under the Freedom of Information Act, shedding some light on how the HHS agency is implementing Biden’s election order. 

About three dozen pages of the records are from ACL’s “Administrative Priority Overview” and are almost entirely blacked out. 

Because of the excessive redactions to the released documents, it’s not clear how “milestones” may be defined or whether any were accomplished. 

Biden issued Executive Order 14019 in March 2021, requiring federal agencies to work on voter turnout. 

Since that time, public records trickling out through requests under the Freedom of Information Act show that federal agencies partnered or met with numerous left-leaning nonprofit advocacy groups on the subject of getting out the vote. The groups include Demos, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO, the Al Sharpton-founded National Action Network, and the George Soros-backed Open Society Policy Center.

In September 2021, the White House issued a press release explaining how federal agencies would boost voting. 

“The Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living will launch a new voting access hub to connect older adults and people with disabilities to information, tools and resources to help them understand and exercise their right to vote,” the press release says. 

The only other HHS agency specified by the White House as implementing Biden’s order is the Indian Health Service, which The Daily Signal first reported is partnering with Demos and the ACLU. 

It’s not clear from the unredacted information whether the Administration for Community Living is teaming with any overtly political groups.

The newly obtained records include correspondence dated March 11, 2022, from Michelle Bishop, voter access and engagement manager for the National Disability Rights Network, which advocates on behalf of the disabled. 

Bishop’s email was to Ophelia McLain, program manager with ACL’s Administration on Disabilities, who was active in implementing the president’s order. 

“As requested, I am sending an updated summary of trainings and resources planned for 2022,” Bishop told McClain. 

Bishop wrote that the National Disability Rights Network was partnering with other groups—including Self Advocates Becoming Empowered, the National Association of the Deaf, and the National Federation for the Blind—on activities such as making videos and “providing plain language explanations of complicated election topics” such as primaries, the differences between open and closed primaries, and how ranked choice voting works.

Spokespersons for neither the HHS nor the ACL responded to The Daily Signal by publication.

Editor’s note: This piece has been updated to reflect that the Department of Health and Human Services was contacted for comment before publication.