Billed as the “For the People” act, recently passed H.R. 1 claims to protect election integrity and expand access to voting. However, according to Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt — and 20 other state attorneys general — the bill is unconstitutional in a number of ways.
“As introduced, the Act betrays several Constitutional deficiencies and alarming mandates that, if passed, would federalize state elections and impose burdensome costs and regulations on state and local officials,” the attorneys general wrote in a letter to Senate and House leaders, noting that the U.S. Constitution places with the state legislatures, not with Congress, primary authority for safeguarding the manner of conducting elections. “The Act would invert that constitutional structure, commandeer state resources, confuse and muddle elections procedures, and erode faith in our elections and systems of governance.”
The legislation was approved 220-210, with no Republicans voting in favor — and one Democrat, Rep Bennie Thompson (D-Mississippi) voting against. It contains numerous provisions that would intrude on state authority to establish the manner of conducting elections, including:
- Mandating nationwide mail-in voting
- Requiring states to accept late ballots
- Overriding state voter identification laws like the law in Kansas
- Mandating that states conduct redistricting through unelected commissions
- Mandating nationwide automatic voter registration and Election Day registration
- Restricting the ability of states to remove illegitimate voters from registration rolls
- Requiring certain political organizations to disclose their donor lists thereby creating an ability to censor groups with whom the bill’s authors disagree
The ‘For the People’ Act would also allow felons to vote so long as they are not currently in prison.
“[I]t is difficult to imagine a legislative proposal more threatening to election integrity and voter confidence,” the attorneys general wrote. “Around the nation, the 2020 general elections generated mass confusion and distrust – problems that the Act would only exacerbate. Should the Act become law, we will seek legal remedies to protect the Constitution, the sovereignty of all states, our elections, and the rights of our citizens.”
Kansas Republican Rep. Ron Estes has also put out a release in opposition to the bill.
“The designation of H.R. 1 is typically given to the most important legislation each Congress, which is why Republicans chose it for the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act during the 115th Congress – legislation that directly benefits hardworking Americans,” Estes said in the release. “This legislation is a centralized power grab that funnels taxpayer dollars to political candidates, dismantles Kansas’ voter-integrity laws, establishes a “Speech Czar,” and politicizes the current non-partisan Federal Election Commission. The Democrats’ H.R. 1 does more for Washington politicians than everyday Americans.”
There are other troubling sections in the ‘For the People’ Act as well including allowing 16-year-olds to register to vote.
“(1) IN GENERAL.—A State may not refuse to accept or process an individual’s application to register to vote in elections for Federal office on the grounds that the individual is under 18 years of age at the time the individual submits the application, so long as the individual is at least 16 years of age at such time.
“(2) NO EFFECT ON STATE VOTING AGE REQUIREMENTS.—Nothing in paragraph (1) may be construed to require a State to permit an individual who is under 18 years of age at the time of an election for Federal office to vote in the election.”
While the bill states there is no effect on voting age, there has already been a concerted push by the progressive wing of the Democratic party to allow 16-year-olds to vote.
There’s even a push within the bill to designate Washington D.C. — one of the bluest regions in the nation — as a state, which would grant Democrats two almost perpetual additional seats in the Senate.
As the Heritage Foundation points out, however, doing so would require a constitutional amendment.
As New York Republican Rep Claudia Tenny pointed out in a recent op-ed in “the Hill,” the bill is more about maintaining power.
“In fact, the worst kept secret in Washington right now is that H.R. 1 isn’t for the people at all, it’s for the politicians,” she wrote. “House Democrats are leveraging legitimate concerns about election integrity to rush this dangerous bill through Congress. It won’t make our elections safer; instead, it will give House Democrats an advantage in future elections by eliminating nearly every institutional guardrail that preserves the sanctity of the ballot box today. Pelosi is opening the floodgates for almost anyone to submit a ballot, or even multiple ballots, regardless of eligibility.”
H.R. 1’s companion bill S 1, faces dubious prospects in the nearly-evenly divided Senate, but it is likely that pieces of the nearly-800 page proposal will find their way into other legislation.