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Republican AGs accuse Ed Dept. of partisan vote harvesting for Democrats

Biden administration’s effort to pay college students for get out the vote campus campaigns backed by left-wing activists

Nearly 20 Republican state attorneys general have called on the U.S. Department of Education to rescind guidance telling administrators they can use federal funds to pay students for get-out-the-vote efforts.

The seven-page letter essentially describes how the new allowance to hire college students to register voters through the Federal Work-Study Program would amount to partisan vote harvesting for Democrats.

“Voter-registration efforts can serve overtly political functions even when they seem facially nonpartisan, as turning out the right voters is often a matter of knowing where to boost ‘broad-based’ turnout,” 16 attorneys general, representing states such as Texas, South Dakota, and Georgia, wrote in an April 2 letter to the Education Department.

“In other words, laudable activities like encouraging voter turnout and registering voters have to happen somewhere, and that somewhere decides elections. Your guidance effectively licenses colleges and universities to subsidize this activity—and potentially swing elections by choosing where to direct these funds—with taxpayer money,” the letter continues.

The attorneys general call on the federal agency to “reconsider your guidance” and advise colleges and universities that federal work-study funds cannot be used for “get-out-the-vote activities, voter registration, providing voter assistance at a polling place or through a voter hotline, or serving as a poll worker under any circumstances.”

The controversy stems from February guidance handed down from the Department of Education stating that federal work-study funds could be used to pay students for “broad-based get-out-the-vote activities.”

Federal Work-Study funds are used to assist college students in offsetting tuition costs by working a part-time campus job.

The department maintained that using federal funds for this purpose would not violate standards of bipartisanship, since the guidance does not classify get-out-the-vote efforts as “political activities,” but as part of the “regular administration of Federal, State, or local government,” according to the department’s guidance.

Asked about the attorney generals’ concerns, an education department spokesperson only said the guidance passes muster.

The federal funds are only used for “federal work study positions with government agencies,” meaning that, “any election work that they are doing is not partisan, and already paid for with taxpayer funds,” the spokesperson said in an email to The College Fix.

The guidance issued by the department in February was “in response to two letters the Department received asking for this policy change – one was from a bipartisan group of Secretaries of State and the other was from members of Congress,” the spokesperson continued.

The offices for many of the attorneys generals that signed the letter declined to comment to The College Fix, and referred back to their memo.

The education department’s plan is backed by leftist organizations such as Civic Nation, a grassroots organization supported by Michelle Obama and other liberals, the Daily Signal reported in April.

An activist with the group contacted Wisconsin state officials in January about the plan — one month before Vice President Kamala Harris announced the government would pay students to “promote voter participation.”

Many Republican lawmakers are calling this a scheme to use tax dollars to galvanize the vote on college campuses, which primarily lean Democratic. College students, as well as university faculty, skew wildly to the left, representing a treasure trove of voters for the Democratic party.

“Biden signed EO14019 ordering federal govt to use taxpayer $ to mobilize (his) voters,” Republican Sen. Bill Hagerty stated on X. “…Sounds like the election-year plan is underway.”

Other top Republicans in Congress have also denounced the plan.

According to Rep. Virginia Foxx, Republican chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, the effort is “about as crooked as it gets,” she told The Fix in a March interview. “Every time I think this administration can’t stoop any lower, I’m proven wrong.”

But Democrats love the plan.

Michael Dannenberg, a policy aide at the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education and a former official in the Obama administration, celebrated the move on X in February.

“Breaking News: The U.S. Dept of Ed is allowing work study students to be paid from their awards for non-partisan voter registration, poll worker, and get-out-the-vote work — an idea I’ve pushed for years. Yay! When we all vote, we all win,” he wrote.

Democrat candidates in the 2020 election campaigned on bailing out student loans, hoping to court voters in young demographics. Many analysts credited Democrat wins in the 2022 midterms to the political activism of liberal college students.

Democrats won in key battleground states such as Nevada and Michigan, as college students funded by MTV Campus Vote Challenge 2022, an ostensibly nonpartisan organization, encouraged voter registration and pushed for polling locations on campuses.

This election is expected to be no different, with 70percent of surveyed voters 27 and younger saying loan forgiveness is “very” or “somewhat” important. According to the survey, 50 percent of all voters support partial or complete student loan forgiveness.

For this reason, Biden has made student loan forgiveness a focal point of his reelection bid, and he recently announced another bailout despite the Supreme Court ruling against his initial attempt.

MORE: Concerns raised over universities signing over students’ private FERPA data to voter data companies

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