The Justice Department must begin releasing documents to a conservative think tank on Thursday to show what it’s doing about an order from President Joe Biden to expand voting access and information about voter registration.
The Foundation of Government Accountability asked for the compliance documents under the Freedom of Information Act regarding Biden’s executive order, issued in 2021. The reason for the request is to ensure that the order, titled “Promoting Access to Voting,” isn’t “biased to help Democrats.”
Biden’s order, signed in March of last year, directed the heads of all federal agencies to submit proposals that promote voter registration and give assistance to states under the National Voter Registration Act.
The White House said the order was intended to make it easier for people with disabilities, active duty military and other overseas voters to cast ballots. It also sought to modernize voter information platforms and provide outreach to Native American communities.
“Every eligible voter should be able to vote and have that vote counted,” Biden said at the time. “If you have the best ideas, you have nothing to hide. Let the people vote.”
Biden signed the order during a push by Democrats in Congress to promote voting rights and access. A major voting rights bill, the For the People Act, had passed the House but not the Senate when the executive order was issued. Senate Republicans later blocked the bill and it was never passed in the upper chamber.
The FGA, a Florida-based conservative group, sued the Justice Department after it failed to respond to the request for documents about its plans with the White House and communications with states regarding the plan. A federal court ruled in July that the department must release the documents by Sept. 8.
The FGA didn’t explain in its statement on Tuesday how Biden’s order might be biased in favor of Democrats — although critics have been saying for years, particularly since the 2020 election, that Republicans are seeking to make voting more difficult. A number Republican-majority states, such as Georgia and Florida, have passed laws since Biden beat Donald Trump in 2020 that restrict voting access or make it more difficult for residents to cast a ballot.
“Federal law is clear that the American people have a right to these public documents … detailing how the Department of Justice will newly operate within our elections,” Tarren Bragdon, FGA president and CEO, said in the statement. “It is especially timely as midterm elections are approaching and voters should know the full details of this unprecedented executive order.
“The public needs to know that this unparalleled federal effort is legal, neutral, non-partisan and fair to all Americans and not using taxpayer money and federal bureaucrats to help one political party win.”
After Thursday’s release, the group is supposed to receive a second batch of documents on Sept. 13, with all of the documents scheduled to be released to the group by Oct. 13.
The FGA says it’s a nonprofit, multi-state think tank that “promotes public policy solutions to create opportunities for every American to experience the American Dream.”
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