“House committee subpoenas 15 Biden Cabinet secretaries to hand over documents on voter mobilization ‘scheme'”

That’s the Fox headline for the continuing swirl of nonsense around Executive Order 14019 – but as I’ve mentioned before, the reality of the alleged “scheme” is an instruction to federal agencies to help facilitate customer service in a profoundly nonpartisan way, and only as consistent with each agency’s legal authority.  (Disclosure: as mentioned before, in my role as a federal official, I had a hand in helping to implement the Executive Order.

Here’s the set of cover letters for the subpoena mentioned in the piece.  One of the cover letters is to the Department of Defense, and asserts that “Congress’s delegation of authority to the Department of Defense does not include using funds and resources to provide Americans with voter registration materials.”  Which, as just one example, is a pretty weird understanding of the NVRA’s designation of DOD recruitment offices (52 U.S.C. 20506(c)), not to mention UOCAVA’s requirements (52 U.S.C. 20301(b)(2) and (b)(5) and 20305), all of which very explicitly authorize (indeed, mandate) the Department of Defense to provide Americans with voter registration materials.

Agency implementation of the Executive Order varies, because different agencies have different touchpoints with the public and different legal authorities.  Agency brainstorming that hasn’t crystallized into final agency action hasn’t been made public, but individual agencies that have made concrete decisions have announced those efforts.  And the Administration has periodically posted updates on agency steps in connection with the Executive Order, including cooperation with a bipartisan roster of state election officials. 

Here are the updates I know of: Sept. 2021, Mar. 2022, Sept. 2022, Mar. 2023, Feb. 2024.  Since then, I’ve seen the SBA accept designation by Michigan as a voter registration agency (joining the Department of the Interior in Kansas and New Mexico, and Veterans Affairs in Kentucky and Michigan), pursuant to the express requirement of 52 U.S.C. 20506(b).  There may have been other releases I don’t know of (and I’d welcome reliable news of other agency actions).  But none of those announcements of agency efforts to implement the Executive Order amount to the mysterious nefarious boogeyman the House committee seems to be suggesting.

UPDATE: More in Roll Call.

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