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Weekly Column: An Attack On States' Rights And Minority Opinions

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

Over the last few weeks, I have heard from many Idahoans expressing their concerns with H.R. 1 and S. 1, the “For the People Act.”  I share these concerns.

This patently unconstitutional legislation looks a lot more like a “For the Bureaucrats” bill.  It would circumvent our entire elections process and stifle freedom of speech.  H.R. 1 would federalize our election process and strip states of election authorities guaranteed to them by the U.S. Constitution.  Participation in the electoral process is one of the most fundamental rights enjoyed by Americans.  Elections are scheduled in accordance with the needs of a community and laws governing how and when those votes can take place.  Under our Constitution, states have jurisdiction over their own elections, not the federal government. 

This bill would mandate a one-size-fits-all process that removes that constitutional authority from states and hands it over to Washington bureaucrats.  If passed, this bill would:

  • Keep people who have died or moved on local voter registration files, undermining election accuracy;
  • Insert further potential for fraud into the elections process by allowing trafficking by permitting paid political operatives to go door-to-door collecting thousands of ballots and delivering them--unsupervised--to a county clerk;
  • Force states like Idaho to abandon any form of voter identification;
  • Infringe on freedom of speech by requiring private citizens’ political donations to be published, pressuring voters supporting minority causes to stay silent; and
  • Allow ballots to be counted up to 10 days after election day, eroding confidence in the electoral system across the country immediately after an election cycle in which more than one-third of Americans already did not trust their vote counted.

Moreover, the legislation includes a number of other partisan power grabs that have absolutely nothing to do with voting rights, including:

  • Politicizing the bipartisan Federal Elections Commission by reducing its membership from six to five commissioners;
  • Using taxpayer funds to match private campaign donations at a 6-to-1 taxpayer-to-donor ratio for donations under $200, injecting greater federal government influence into election outcomes; and
  • A provision to grant Statehood to the District of Columbia, which violates Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution that provides for a ‘federal district’ distinct from the states to ensure the nation’s capital is not subject to political pressure from state or local government.

Idaho has already implemented efforts to increase voter turnout:

  • Same-day voter registration with proof of residence; and
  • No-excuse absentee and early voting.

Mandating that other states do the same is a violation of state sovereignty.  States are best equipped to implement and enforce election policies that protect the integrity of all future elections and restore Americans’ faith in our electoral system.

The Democrats’ proposal is hardly a voting-rights bill.  Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our republic.  Further loss of confidence in our electoral system would be catastrophic for our country, and this bill would compound confusion in the election process.  I support the establishment of a commission to study the last election and recommend meaningful reforms to protect the integrity of our elections.  But, I will not support this bill and a federal government power-grab of state election laws.

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