Mississippi’s top election official says he is worried that the nation will suffer if more “woke” and “uninformed” college students become registered voters. Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson made that remark in a televised interview while describing President Joe Biden’s March 6 executive order on “promoting access to voting.”
Among other things, the president’s executive order directs the heads of federal agencies to develop strategic plans to “promote voter registration and participation,” possibly including “distributing voter registration and vote-by-mail ballot applications in the course of regular services.”
On March 26, Watson claimed during an interview with WLOX that Biden was “basically employing all the federal agencies, universities and colleges to register as many folks as they can via this automatic voter registration.” Biden’s order does not mention colleges, universities or automatic registration.
“So think about all those woke college and university students now who will automatically be registered to vote whether they wanted to or not. Again, if they didn’t know to opt-out, they’re going to be automatically registered to vote and then they receive this mail-in ballot that they probably didn’t know was coming because they didn’t know they were registered to vote,” the Mississippi Republican said.
“Woke” is a term that originated in Black culture to describe enlightenment on issues of systemic racism and white supremacy. As a national race awakening swept the nation over the past year, though, many white Republican and conservative politicians, including U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have increasingly begun using “woke” as an epithet to mock or criticize proponents of anti-racist ideas….
In the WLOX interview, Watson made additional claims about Biden’s March 6 executive order, positing an additional scenario where he implied the president could be sneakily registering people to vote without their knowledge.
“So you think about the (Gulf) Coast, we have a hurricane, FEMA comes in, we get FEMA help. On that FEMA application now is going to be an area for voter registration, and it’s automatic voter registration unless you opt out,” Watson claimed.
The White House declined to respond to Watson’s remarks, but a copy of the executive order and a March 6 White House statement announcing the order provides no evidence for these claims. The order does not offer any specific directive for colleges, universities or FEMA. It also does not mention using unrelated forms for automatic voter registration or requiring people to “opt out” of becoming registered to vote.
Instead, it orders federal agencies to “evaluate ways in which the agency can, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, promote voter registration and voter participation.” The agency heads should consider “ways to provide relevant information in the course of activities or services that directly engage with the public,” it says, including through “agency materials, websites, online forms, social media platforms, and other points of public access” on “how to register to vote, how to request a vote-by-mail ballot, and how to cast a ballot in upcoming elections.”
The order also directs the agency heads to find “ways to facilitate seamless transition from agencies’ websites directly to State online voter registration systems.” The heads must submit “a strategic plan outlining the ways identified under this review that the agency can promote voter registration and voter participation” within 200 days, Biden’s order says.