On Wednesday night, Speaker Nancy Pelosi dragooned all but one Democrat into voting for her total rewrite of the nation’s election laws: House of Representatives Bill 1, or HR 1. The final vote was 220 to 210. The bill now goes to the Senate.
Republicans promise a filibuster there to stop it. Every American should hope they succeed.
HR 1 would cement all of the worst changes in election law made in blue states in 2020 and nationalize them. Federal control of elections would be the norm, with states relegated to being colonial outposts that carry out Washington DC’s mandates.
Two amendments to impose yet more federal controls failed before final passage. But it’s noteworthy that a majority of House Democrats voted to expand voting privileges to 16-year-olds, an astonishingly childish action in its own right. And 45 percent of House Democrats supported an amendment that would have barred states from blocking those serving jail sentences from voting. That’s a position so radical it was rejected by 64 percent of voters in liberal Massachusetts in a referendum two decades ago.
As it is, the version of HR 1 that passed was still chock full of enough horrors to justify California representative Tom McClintock’s summary of it: ‘Democracies die when one party seizes control of the elections process, eliminates the safeguards that have protected the integrity of the ballot, places restrictions on free speech, and seizes the earnings of individual citizens to promote candidates they may abhor.’
He’s right: HR is nothing less than a existential threat to America’s fair democratic system. Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, has consulted other former members and assembled a short summary of the worst provisions of HR 1.
He says that while the Constitution does allow Congress to override the power of states to decide ‘the time, manner and place’ of Federal elections no previous attempt resembling the massive scale of HR 1 has ever been attempted.
HR would in short order:
• H.R. 1 would make fraud easier by forcing states to implement early voting, automatic voter registration, same-day registration, online voter registration and no-fault absentee balloting
• Degrade the accuracy of registration lists by requiring states to automatically register all individuals on state and federal databases. This would include many ineligible voters, including aliens
• It would require states to allow 16-year-olds and 17-year-olds to register. Combined with a ban on voter ID, this would allow underage individuals to vote
• Require states to count ballots cast by voters outside of their assigned precincts, a recipe for election fraud
• Mandate no-fault absentee ballots, which are the tool of choice for vote thieves, force states to accept absentee ballots received up to 10 days after Election Day and force states allow ‘ballot harvesting’
• Prevent election officials from checking the eligibility and qualifications of voters and removing ineligible voters
• Ban state-voter ID laws by forcing states to allow individuals to vote without an ID and merely signing a statement in which they claim they are who they say they are
• Create vague and broad language that could be used to criminally charge someone who questions the eligibility of a voter
• Destroy the bipartisan composition of the Federal Election Commission and places a partisan majority in control of every aspect of our federal elections
• Require states to restore the ability of felons to vote the moment they are out of prison
• Force disclosure of names of Americans who donate to nonprofit organizations — thus subjecting them to political harassment
• Declare statehood for Washington DC to be ‘constitutional’ despite evidence it is not
• And finally, HR 1 would effectively ban nonprofits from contacting a member of Congress or their staff about pending legislation — a direct assault on the right of Americans to petition their government
Rep. John Sarbanes, a Maryland Democrat, who is the chief author of HR 1 insists with a straight face that outside of Congress ‘these aren’t controversial reforms’. Stacey Abrams, the civil rights activist who narrowly lost her 2018 race for Georgia governor, claims that under HR 1 minority voters will ‘have a right to take our seat at the table and our place at the ballot box’.
Should the power grab that is HR 1 pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Biden, it would represent a distortion of democracy that will undermine confidence in the system far more than anything Donald Trump ever attempted.