House Passes Sweeping Election Law Changes

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House Passes Sweeping Election Law Changes

This week the House of Representatives passed legislation that would impose a variety of federal requirements on states' election practices.

 

By a vote of 220-210, the House voted in favor of HR 1 late on the night of March 3. Here is how VoteSpotter describes HR 1:

 

To amend federal election laws and impose federal rules on state election procedures. These changes include mandating that certain nonprofit corporations engaging in political speech report their donors to the government; mandating that social media companies report the names of political ad donors to the government; requiring members of Congress to use personal funds to settle employment discrimination suits; requiring states to implement automatic, online and same-day voter registration; mandating how states remove ineligible voters from the rolls; requiring that redistricting be done by an independent commission; mandating that presidential candidates publicly disclose their income tax returns; and establishing a pilot program to provide government funding for citizens to contribute to candidates, among other things.

 

This legislation combines a number of Democratic election law priorities. Enacting these, supporters argue, would reduce barriers to voting, help eliminate racially-biased voting laws, and ensure wider participation in elections. Republicans pushed back against these claims, however. They said that many of these practices would open the door to voter fraud. They also noted that conducting elections is a state, not federal, responsibility. They said that this law was an unconstitutional intrusion into state laws.

 

The vote on HR 1 comes after a contentious 2020 election that saw election laws altered in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Republicans charged that these changes led to voter fraud but Democrats lauded them as long overdue. Many states are now considering bills that would reduce early voting and similar measures.

 

Only one Democrat voted against HR 1 and no Republican supported it. The bill's prospects in the Senate look uncertain. If it is enacted, it will face lawsuits from state officials who will echo GOP arguments that many of its provisions are unconstitutional.

 

Do you support the federal government mandating that states allow same-day voter registration and make other changes to their election laws?

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