In previous commentaries, I have explained why we need better election security. But that doesn’t mean Congress should pass just any bill that is supposed to increase election security. The US Senate will consider the Safe Act that was passed by the House. The word “safe” stands for “Securing Americans Federal Elections Act.”
While the legislation has some positive measures, it also contains many provisions that need to be changed. When the bill was considered in Congress, the Republicans offered numerous amendments that were all rejected. So, the bill passed with only one Republican supporting it.
For example, the bill requires that all paper ballots “shall be printed in the United States on recycled paper manufactured in the United States.” The problem with that is some election officials testified that the sensitivity of ballot scanners would give false readings. The attempt to delete this provision was voted down in the House. Having a paper record is a good idea, but that can also be provided by electronic voting machines.
The bill allocates $600 million in the first year to help states upgrade their voting systems. Some members of Congress feared states would see this as free money and wait to upgrade their voting systems. One amendment would have required “a 25% funding march” from states. That was also voted down in the House.
Another amendment was to ban “ballot harvesting,” which is when a third party canvasser goes around collecting absentee ballots. As I have mentioned in previous commentaries, this procedure has already been misused. North Carolina threw out one House election because the procedure was abused.
America needs to do more to make our elections secure. But passing the Safe Act without some common sense amendments is not the way to do so.