During the political campaigns this year, we will hear quite a bit about the need to have safe and secure elections. Democrat concerns about interference from Russia, and Republican concerns about election fraud will drive the discussion. Unfortunately, much of the rhetoric will focus on flawed bills that passed the House but were ignored in the Senate.
A few months ago, I wrote about the Safe Act (Securing Federal Elections Act). While it had a number of positive measures in it, there were other provisions that should have been changed. Republicans offered numerous amendments that were all rejected. One of those amendments would ban “ballot harvesting.” That was one reason a congressional election in North Carolina was thrown out and redone. After all the amendments were rejected, the bill passed with only one Republican supporting it.
Another bill was the “For the People Act” that was supposed to expand access to the ballot box and reduce the influence of money in elections. One of the concerns with the bill was the fact that it would fail to prohibit noncitizens voting. Representative Dan Crenshaw offered a motion to recommit the bill reaffirming that only US citizens should have the right to vote. That amendment was rejected.
Critics point out that the bill would federalize and micromanage elections with unconstitutional mandates on the states. In fact, the bill was so bad that even the American Civil Liberties Union opposed it. They put out a 13-page letter that argued that the bill would “unconstitutionally impinge on the free speech rights of American citizens and public interest organizations.”
I give all of this as background because it is likely we will hear from Democratic members of Congress that they tried to try to make our elections secure, but Republicans blocked every attempt to provide election security. That’s why you need to know some of the background to these bills.