We’ve now endured two presidential elections in a row after which the losing side accused the winner of illegitimately obtaining the presidency. In 2016, Republicans dutifully stood by as a special counsel staffed with Trump-hating partisans spent two years terrorizing anyone connected with the Trump campaign only to come up empty. Following the 2020 election, it appears Republicans are again standing by dutifully as Democrats and their allies in the media silence and intimidate anyone who questions the results.
There appear to be no serious plans to review the many irregular and extraordinary ad hoc changes to the voting rules. If, as Democrats claim, the vast expansion of mail-in balloting, late registration, and relaxed verification process resulted in no loss of integrity in the result, a comprehensive and bipartisan review of that process might lead to beneficial improvements and greater confidence in future elections.
Election integrity should be a bipartisan goal. The technology exists to ensure accurate tabulation of eligible votes. Yet, to listen to Democrats, any effort to apply international standards of voter integrity amounts to racism and an attempt to restrict voting to an all-white electorate. Nobody wants to be labeled a Jim Crow racist, so Republicans wilt again.
Enter H.R. 1 which House Democrats recently passed on a strictly partisan vote. The bill is an enormous beast with a grab bag of provisions that seize from the states their constitutional duty to establish and monitor the rules for elections within their borders. It’s time to stop whining about distractions like the cancelation of Dr. Seuss and take a closer look at this legislation.
The Heritage Foundation prepared a summary of some of the most troubling changes proposed by H.R. 1. Here are a few highlights I’ve selected to give you a flavor of the changes that will result if the Senate passes the bill:
- Degrade the accuracy of registration lists by requiring states to automatically register all individuals (as opposed to “citizens”) from state and federal databases, such as state Departments of Motor Vehicles, corrections and welfare offices, and federal agencies such as the Social Security Administration, the Department of Labor, the Federal Bureau of Prisons, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services of the Department of Health and Human Services. This would register large numbers of ineligible voters, including aliens, and cause multiple or duplicate registrations of the same individuals and put federal agencies in charge of determining a person’s domicile for voting purposes (as well as that individual’s taxing state).
- It would ban witness signature or notarization requirements for absentee ballots;
- . . . require states to allow vote trafficking (vote harvesting) so that any third parties—including campaign staffers and political consultants—can pick up and deliver absentee ballots.
- . . . establish disclosure requirements for nonprofit organizations that would subject their members and donors to intimidation and harassment . . .
- Authorize the Internal Revenue Service to investigate and consider the political and policy positions of nonprofit organizations before granting tax-exempt status . . .
- Prohibit the filing of any lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of H.R. 1 anywhere except in the District Court for the District of Columbia . . .
- Establish a “Commission to Protect Democratic Institutions” that would have the authority to compel judges to testify and justify their legal decisions, threatening their independent judgment and subjecting them to political pressure and harassment.
As I’ve written before, existing election laws are often enforced against Republicans while similar allegations of violations against Democrats are either ignored or lightly-punished. Complaints against Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, for example, were simply ignored while similar complaints against Trump were vigorously pursued.
Election reform should never be a strictly partisan affair. H.R. 1 is exactly as it seems to be, an effort to box-out political opposition from national elections permanently. Republican acquiescence is tantamount to political suicide and will usher in a one-party system.