President Biden is being pressured to ramp up voter turnout among new immigrants and individuals in federal custody prior to trial as the 2024 elections approach.
In a progress report titled “Strengthening Democracy,” the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, with a coalition of more than 50 left-wing organizations, urged the Biden administration to do more to increase voter registration and turnout before the next election cycle.
The report pushed federal agencies to “work quickly to do everything they can” to promote get-out-the vote efforts in line with Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting, but gave failing grades to many agencies, including immigration services and the Department of Justice, on current plans to increase voter registration.
“While a few agencies have made noteworthy progress, especially toward improving access to voter registration, most have either made minimal progress on their initial strong commitments or have left important opportunities on the table,” the report read.
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“The good news is, it’s not too late,” the report continued. “But agencies must act swiftly over the next several months. As President Biden himself said, ‘It is our duty to ensure that registering to vote and the act of voting be made simple and easy for all those eligible to do so.’ In order to meet that duty, most federal agencies must work quickly to do everything they can to make voter registration and voting more accessible to the millions of eligible voters that they interact with on a regular basis.”
The Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA) told Fox News Digital that it was troubling the report focused “on only those agencies that historically interact with voters that favor the President’s political party.”
The FGA has warned Biden’s executive order goes beyond the scope of the federal government. The initiative “deploys the full force and might of the federal government to do the work that should be reserved for political parties,” according to FGA, which sued the Justice Department last year after agencies refused to release information about how agencies are implementing the election mandates.
“There’s a distinct lack of transparency—frankly, secrecy—surrounding the Biden administration’s voter registration and mobilization efforts. FGA was forced to sue the Department of Justice to compel them to reveal their planning documents. After 18 months, they still haven’t provided the full details of their plans. It begs the question: what exactly are they working so hard to hide?” said Tarren Bragdon, FGA president and CEO. “We intend to find out. And we intend to share that information with the American people.”
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights report recognized three agencies they believe are on the right track, including the Department of the Interior, the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Department of the Treasury.
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In a message to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the report notes that while the group promotes some resources for new citizens, they are not doing enough.
“This existing policy sets USCIS apart, and in some ways ahead, of other agencies who do not currently offer any voter registration opportunities. Yet, there is more USCIS can and should do,” the report said.
“USCIS’ strong positioning to lead on this has only increased as the agency has made significant reductions to the citizenship application backlog and as it increases naturalizations (with 855,000 naturalizations in Fiscal Year 2021 and 1,023,200 naturalizations in Fiscal Year 2022),” the report stated. “Critically, many of these new potential voters represent communities marginalized in the democratic process, including people with limited English proficiency, people of color, people with low incomes, young people, and others.”
The report praised the U.S. Treasury Department “for making a concerted effort to promote voter registration access to the low-income clients of its voluntary tax preparation clinics, and sharing information about voter registration with millions of Americans through the taxpaying process.”
The report urged the Department of Justice and U.S. Marshals service to do more to get eligible voters held in pre-trial custody to vote.
The U.S. Marshals Service was falling behind on implementing the initiative because while it was “making progress on renegotiating their contracts with state and private jail facilities to ensure eligible voters in federal pre-trial custody can exercise their voting rights, and … ensuring that new contracts include those requirements,” the department “has not committed to other effective activities, such as opening the door to polling places in its contracting facilities, and leveraging its contracts to ensure ballot access for all eligible voters, not just those in federal custody.”
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House Republican leaders raised concerns over Biden’s executive order last year, claiming that the activities are outside the scope of the missions the government agencies are tasked with.
The GOP sent a letter blasting Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting, which advised federal agencies to implement nonpartisan plans to increase voter registration and participation in election.
Fox News’ Marisa Shultz contributed to this report.