Twenty Republican state attorneys general sent a letter to House and Senate leaders yesterday warning states will sue if Congress passes H.R. 1, the Democrats’ elections modifications bill. H.R. 1 would federalize state elections, violate the Constitution in numerous ways, and strip away existing safeguards leaving elections more vulnerable to fraud.
The Constitution gives exclusive responsibility to specify the manner of holding presidential elections to the states. Congress only has power to “determine the Time of chusing the Electors.” The framers set things up this way so presidents would not be dependent on Congress for their authority. Because states have exclusive power to prescribe the method of choosing electors, legislation would be unconstitutional if it forces states to permanently adopt presidential voting by mail.
The Constitution gives primary responsibility for specifying the manner of holding congressional elections to the states, giving lesser authority to the federal government. H.R. 1 is unconstitutional because it would make the federal government the primary regulator.
H.R. 1 is also unconstitutional, the signers say, because it tells the states what to do and forces them to devote resources and personnel to implementing federal mandates. States are not supposed to be commandeered in this way.
The mandates in H.R. 1 are objectionable, the letter goes on to say. Doing away with voter ID and allowing voters to self-certify they are eligible to vote strips away any assurance voters are who they say they are. Nationwide automatic voter registration and same-day registration open up too many avenues for fraud by noncitizens and others ineligible to vote. Preventing states from cleaning up their voter rolls - removing dead voters and the like - by requiring mountains of proof in every individual case before a single person can be removed, effectively means voter lists cannot be maintained at all. Putting congressional redistricting in the hands of independent commissions may sound good, but it would mean state lawmakers could not be held accountable for the inherently political decisions the so-called experts would make.
The letter closes with the problems caused by requiring any group expressing political opinions to disclose their donor lists. As others have noted, this would open up individuals and groups to harassment, doxing, and retribution. A lot of people would simply pull out of the political process altogether to avoid these problems, and we would have a lot less free speech and information about issues and candidates, as a result. Critics have also noted H.R. 1 would make the Federal Election Commission hyper-partisan and turn it into a weapon the party in power could use against its political opponents. There would also be new year-round rules limiting what almost every group of citizens - not just super PACs in election season - could say about politics and public issues through radio, TV, newspapers, and the Internet.
H.R. 1 is a hydra-headed monster, another power grab, another overreach by Washington. Let’s hope it dies in the Senate. If it does become law, let’s hope the 20 state attorneys general prevail in court for that is, surely, where they will go.