State official pushes back on feds' program to register inmates to vote

State official pushes back on feds' program to register inmates to vote

State official pushes back on feds' program to register inmates to vote

Mississippi's top election official is taking the Department of Justice to task for using taxpayer funds to encourage incarcerated felons and noncitizens to vote.

Within weeks of taking office, President Joe Biden signed Executive Order 14019, which requires federal agencies to "consider ways to expand citizens' opportunities to register to vote and to obtain information about, and participate in, the electoral process." The order, according to Rep. Ted Budd (R-North Carolina), effectively granted more than 400 agencies under a Democratic administration the potential to affect the voting habits of tens of millions of voters, if not more.

"Few things are more inappropriate for the federal government," Budd wrote in February 2022. "Nothing like this has ever been attempted, for good reason. It smacks of manipulation and partisan meddling."

Mississippi Secretary of State Michael Watson agrees, saying the federal government "has no business" engaging in election-related activities. "We saw the executive order come out," he tells AFN, "but … it's one thing to see it and then [another thing] to see it implemented."

Watson has seen it implemented in his state – which is why on March 6, he sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging a halt to the enforcement of that executive order that could result in the registration of ineligible voters.

Watson, Michael (Miss. SOS) Watson

"[The order] encourages the U.S. Marshals office to go into prisons as well as anybody in their custody to educate them on how to register to vote [and] to help them to vote by mail should they so choose," the state official explains.

He warns in the letter: "This program creates numerous opportunities for ineligible prisoners to be registered to vote in Mississippi [and] provides prisoners with misleading information concerning their right to both register and vote … a right which they may not have.

"For example, many of the people in the custody of the Marshals are convicted felons whom Mississippi law deems ineligible to vote," the letter says. "Additionally, many of those in custody only have fleeting ties to Mississippi and do not meet the residency requirements necessary to be a Mississippi voter."

In Watson's opinion, this is clearly politically driven – because felons and illegals are likely to vote Democratic.

"That's sad, because democracy should work with both parties, Republicans and Democrats," Watson tells AFN. "[But] what we're seeing here is the Biden administration [is] going to preach a lot about democracy being on the ballot. They love democracy – when they can control it, period."

The secretary of state deems that "a threat to our country," similar to the U.S.-Mexico border "being wide open" for illegal immigrants.

"[These] efforts to help not only felons but also illegal immigrants register to vote? That's something that we're going to make sure they're not doing here in Mississippi."

Watson told Fox News Digital earlier this week his office has asked the Department of Justice to provide documentation explaining exactly what it is doing in the state prisons and to identify which prisoners have been talked to so it can be determined if they're eligible to vote.

"I think it's incumbent upon all of the states to take this notice up and to push back as hard as we can, because with this election coming up in November it is incredibly important to the future of our country – what we have left of it," he said.