WVPA Sharing

West Virginia leads nine-state delegation asking U.S. Supreme Court to strike down Executive Order that federalizes voter registration process

CHARLESTON, W.Va –  WV Secretary of State Mac Warner and chief election officers in eight other states joined to bring legal action against an Executive Order issued by President Joe Biden that would federalize state elections.

On Tuesday, May 28, the Secretaries of State in West Virginia, Arkansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Wyoming filed an Amicus Brief with the Supreme Court of the United States asking the Court to rule that Executive Order No. 14019 is unconstitutional and violates the authority granted to the states to regulate elections by the United States Constitution. Specifically, the legal action against the President seeks to protect the voter registration process currently administered by the states.

President Biden issued Executive Order No.14019 on March 7, 2021. The Order directs federal agencies in the Biden Administration to develop ways and means to expand and promote voter registration and to increase participation in vote-by-mail ballot applications. The Executive Order inappropriately allows federal agencies to use non-appropriated federal funds to fulfill the directives of the Executive Order.

“The President’s use of executive action to convert federal agencies into get-out-the-vote operations is prohibited by the United States Constitution,” said WV Secretary of State Mac Warner. “The Elections Clause of the Constitution specifically declares that the manner of running elections is left to the states, not the federal government. Registering eligible people to vote is an essential component and manner of running fair and secure elections.”

Warner and his colleagues contend that the Executive Order is another attempt by the Biden Administration to take control of state elections. They maintain that Executive Order No. 14019 is a prime example of partisan federal government overreach.

The legal action filed on Tuesday indicates that neither the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) nor the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) allow the President to designate federal agencies as voter registration agencies. Only Congress, not the President, has the power to override state regulations by establishing uniform rules for federal elections.

The legal action filed by the Secretaries asks the United States Supreme Court to consider their concerns as soon as possible. David Cook, General Counsel for the WV Secretary of State’s Office, and Stephen Connolly of Connolly Advisory Group, Counsel of Record, filed the legal action on behalf of all nine states.

The delegation of chief election officials, by counsel, concluded to the Court, “In the interest of dangerous precedent and expedience with the 2024 election cycle underway, this Court is postured to exercise its discretion, rule on the underlying merits, and set aside Executive Order No.14019 by finding it unconstitutional.”

Quotes from Secretaries of State in other participating states:

Arkansas Secretary of State John Thurston

“I am opposed to this Executive Order by President Biden. Americans have had enough of federal overreach and interference. The federal government should abide by its obligations under the Constitution and let states abide by theirs. We will run a secure and fair election in Arkansas and will do so as prescribed by the law.”

Indiana Secretary of State Diego Morales

“As Indiana’s Secretary of State, I serve as the state’s Chief Election Officer. It’s a duty that holds significant responsibility and accountability to Hoosiers. The U.S. Constitution clearly says the time, place, and manner of Elections belong to each state. The President’s role is to carry out laws that Congress has passed and funded. EO 14019 exceeds the President’s authority. I’m proud to represent Indiana and join other Secretaries of State in support of this amicus and the fight to protect election integrity.”

Louisiana Secretary of State Nancy Landry

“President Biden’s executive order is a flagrant example of federal overreach. The Constitution’s Elections Clause is clear: election administration is reserved for the states. I am proud to join my fellow elections officials in filing this brief with the Supreme Court.”

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson

“Day by day, it is becoming more apparent President Biden does not respect the rule of law. Neither the Constitution nor federal law gives the Executive Branch the authority to charge federal agencies with voter registration and get-out-the-vote duties. Unfortunately, the Biden Administration has blurred the lines between official duties and campaign efforts by using the hard-earned dollars of American taxpayers on the President’s meager re-election bid.”

New Hampshire Secretary of State David Scanlan

“Permitting an incumbent president of the United States, running for reelection, to set rules for voter registration by executive order sets an incredibly dangerous precedent and creates an opportunity for abuse.”

Wyoming Secretary of State Chuck Gray

“The Biden Administration’s Executive Order is not only unconstitutional; it is outrageously wrong. As Secretaries of State, we must speak out against Biden’s illegal administrative actions.”

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