Organization Trends

A Further Push to Federalize Elections

“Vote-by-mail now, vote-by-mail forever,” is the rallying cry of today’s left.

I’ve already documented how the Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL), the poisonous well of “Zuck bucks,” has pivoted from privatizing elections to getting Uncle Sam to pay for all-mail elections, starting this year. The $80 million allocated to that campaign by the left-wing donor and partisan documentary film producer Jeff Skoll may seem extreme, but it’s a bargain compared to what CTCL hopes to accomplish: $10 billion in taxpayer funding for expanding vote by mail, half of it for changing the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) into a mail-in ballot machine.

But that’s only half of the story. Meet Demos, the tax-exempt group trying to transform the federal government into one gigantic get-out-the-vote machine for the Democratic Party.

Demos is a think tank with ties to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Masachussets, the Green New Deal, and court-packing efforts. Miles Rapaport, who led the group from 2001 to 2014, was active with the Students for a Democratic Society in the 1960s, and Demos’s founder, David Callahan, now advises “progressive” mega-donors on giving to liberal causes via the website Blue Tent.

Before 2020, Demos wanted a constitutional amendment mandating automatic and same-day voter registration, restoring felon voting rights, abolishing the Electoral College, and granting statehood to Washington, D.C. The 2020 election only emboldened the group, and no wonder; its last president, Sabeel Rahman, is now senior counsel in the powerful Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Office of Management and Budget.

Demos now demands the Biden administration “direct federal agencies to provide voter registration services” targeting “Black and brown” and “low-income Americans,” code for likely Democratic voters:

Integrating voter registration into routine transactions with federal agencies has the potential to add millions of eligible voters to the registration rolls—a vital step towards dismantling white supremacy in our democracy and building a more representative government.

What does this look like in practice? Imagine receiving a vote-by-mail application when applying for a federal education loan, when registering for Obamacare, when a Native American in Colorado and Arizona seeks treatment at the Indian Health Services, when immigrants are naturalized, when the Department of Housing and Urban Development offers rental assistance to the poor, or when receiving Social Security benefits. The list is nearly endless, which is why it’s such a powerful tool.

Demos also wants to use federal get-out-the-vote to “end prison-based gerrymandering” in Republican states and remake the nonpartisan Election Assistance Commission, which provides expert guidance on election administration to the states, into a voter registration machine. All of it is to be enforced by a weaponized U.S. Department of Justice that would make Lois Lerner’s IRS look evenhanded. That’s on top of passing the extreme John Lewis Voting Rights Act (H.R. 4), the Democrats’ latest effort to control state-run elections.

President Joseph Biden is following through on Demos’s demands. On March 7, 2021, the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, when Alabama state troopers beat civil rights protesters in 1965, the president signed an executive order directing federal agencies to begin distributing registration and vote-by-mail applications “in the course of regular services” and providing “voting access and education” to individuals in federal prisons.

Demos quickly applauded and claimed credit for the order, but urged Biden to go further by creating a national voter registration database, ostensibly to fix application errors. In reality, a national database would chill states’ efforts to clean up voter rolls and rob them of the right to run elections as they see fit under the U.S. Constitution. Does anyone really believe that America’s elections would be more secure if they were run by Washington bureaucrats and attorneys?

But there’s another pillar in Demos’s strategy: All-mail elections. Among its “reforms” is a Democratic takeover of the Postal Service, currently headed by Trump appointee Louis DeJoy, a vote-by-mail skeptic. Many Democrats blame DeJoy for slow delivery of mail-in ballots in the 2020 election, accusing him of partisanship. More likely, it’s the result of an agency that struggles to perform its true job, delivering the mail. But Democrats are demanding Biden fire him.

Which is why the left has been quietly building a Democratic majority on the Postal Service oversight board since early 2021, appointing vote-by-mail advocates from both parties to the board who’ve promised to make delivery of mail-in and absentee ballots one of the agency’s top priorities.

But there’s a catch: By law, the Postal Service Board of Governors may only have five members from a single party. Hence, Biden has appointed the supposed “independent” ex-National Vote at Home Institute president Amber McReynolds, a partisan in disguise. This has created the opportunity for a Democratic supermajority when Republican William Zollars’s term expires in December.

Demos and its ally, Common Cause, know this. The Common Cause even runs a lobbying campaign to create a “reform-minded majority” on the board to “fix Trump’s manufactured USPS crisis and fire DeJoy.” Will Republican senators fall for the trap? More importantly, will conservatives defend the Constitution? If not, they’ll soon be facing a government of, by, and for the Democratic Party, not the people. Federalizing voter registration in the hands of left-wing activists is a transparently partisan act. Elections had best be kept out of federal hands and under state control where they belong, and where the Constitution placed them.


This article originally appeared in the American Conservative on May 19, 2022.

Hayden Ludwig

Hayden Ludwig is the Director of Policy Research at Restoration of America. He was formerly Senior Investigative Researcher at Capital Research Center. Ludwig is a native of Orange County, California,…
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