All Of The Worst Provisions Remain In Democrats’ Partisan Election Takeover

As Democrats Prepare To Mark Up S.1, The Democrat Politician Protection Act, It Still Would Funnel Public Money To Politicians’ Campaigns, Turn The FEC Into A Partisan Weapon, Unconstitutionally Regulate Core Political Speech And Encourage Political Intimidation, And Consolidate Control Over Elections In Washington While Undermining Voter ID Requirements And Imposing Ballot Harvesting On States


“The Senate is headed for a showdown over Democrats’ sweeping voting rights and election overhaul bill as a key committee plans to mark up the legislation Tuesday.” (NBC News, 5/10/2021)

KET’s RENEE SHAW: “Federal voting laws… There are proposals in both the House and Senate, number one priority, H.R.-1, [S-1]. Democrats propose eliminating voter ID requirements, implementing automatic voter registration and same day registration. You’re against that, why?”
SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “Oh, it’s a lot more. They want to turn the Federal Election Commission into a partisan enforcer. This is the umpire, if you will, they want to turn him from a judge into a prosecutor. They want to take public money and spend it on political campaigns so that your money is taken and spent on campaigns for people you don’t support. It’s a vast federal takeover of all American elections. It’s a horrible bill. I’m going to do everything that I can, and my colleagues are going to do everything we can, to prevent it. … It’s really important there is no rational basis for having the federal government takeover all of American elections.” (KET, 5/09/2021)


Speaker Pelosi Admits Democrats Are Pushing This Partisan Legislation To Help Their Campaigns

PBS’ JUDY WOODRUFF: “Let me — well, speaking of elections, Democrats are facing a tough landscape in next year's midterms. You have Republicans controlling the redrawing of congressional districts… in a number of states, in Texas, in Florida, in North Carolina, in addition to Georgia, the first three all gaining House seats. Isn't that going to make it exceedingly uphill for your party to hold onto the majority in the House?”
HOUSE SPEAKER NANCY PELOSI (D-CA):Well, just the elections are about campaigns, and we are ready. We are ready with our M's, mobilization to own the ground, to get out the vote with our message of unity for the people, again, so proud of what the Biden-Harris administration is putting forth, and then, of course, with the resources, the money that is needed to do this. But we would be better if we can pass the H.R.1 and S.1. in order to remove obstacles to participation for people to vote. But I would just say this. I think you have heard me say this before, but for the benefit of our audience, people talk about, well, in the past, the president's party has lost seats in the off-year. Any assumptions about past elections are obsolete.” (PBS’ Newshour, 5/05/2021)


Meanwhile, So Many Provisions Of This Sweeping Federal Election Takeover Are Constitutionally Dubious That It Would Likely ‘Set Off A Sprawling Constitutional Battle’ In The Courts: ‘We’re Going To Have A Dozen Major Supreme Court Cases On Different Pieces Of It’

“If the sweeping voting rights bill that the House passed in March overcomes substantial hurdles in the Senate to become law, it would reshape American elections and represent a triumph for Democrats... But passage of the bill, known as H.R. 1, would end a legislative fight and start a ‘legal war that could dwarf the court challenges aimed at the Affordable Care Act over the past decade. … The potential for the bill to set off a sprawling constitutional battle is largely a function of its ambitions.” (“Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill,” The New York Times, 5/05/2021)

“The bill’s opponents say that it is, in the words of an editorial in National Review, ‘a frontal assault on the Constitution’ and ‘the most comprehensively unconstitutional bill in modern American history.’ More measured critics take issue with specific provisions even as they acknowledge that the very nature of the bill — a grab bag of largely unrelated measures — would make it difficult to attack in a systematic way.” (“Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill,” The New York Times, 5/05/2021)


This Legislation Is So One-Sided And So Full Of Objectionable Provisions, It Even Garnered Bipartisan Opposition In The House

“Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson's lone ‘no’ vote against H.R. 1, the massive voting rights and election reform legislation, was no accident. Thompson, of Mississippi, joined with all Republicans late Wednesday to vote against the House Democrats' top legislative priority, known as the For the People Act of 2021.” (“Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson Explains Why He Was Only Dem To Vote Against Massive HR 1 Election Bill,” Fox News, 3/04/2021)


Most Importantly, S.1, The Senate Version Of Democrats’ Partisan Election Takeover, Retains All Of The Worst Provisions That Leader McConnell And Others Have Blasted For Two Years

Democrats’ Partisan Bill Still Includes A Provision To Pay For Their Campaigns With Public Money

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “H.R.1 would create a scheme of public funds to match small political donations at a 6-to-1 rate. Give your guy $200, and he might get $1,200 from the government.” (Editorial, “Making Every Election Like 2020,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/01/2021)

  • “The For the People Act of 2021, known as H.R. 1… would provide public matching funds for qualifying congressional and presidential candidates at a rate of 6:1, among many other provisions. The 6:1 match would kick in for each grassroots contribution to a candidate up to $200. For example, a $200 donation to a House candidate would garner a $1,200 match in public funds for a total contribution of $1,400. The program would begin in the 2028 election cycle and would be voluntary. Candidates would opt in by meeting donation qualifications and would be subject to certain contribution limits.” (“House Democrats’ H.R. 1 Would Create New Public Financing Of Congressional Campaigns,” Fox News, 3/03/2021)

House Democrats Unanimously Voted To Use The Public Fisc To Pay For Their Own Campaigns

REP. RODNEY DAVIS (R-IL), House Administration Committee Ranking Member: “This bill isn’t for the people. It’s for the politicians. This is why I am offering a Motion to Recommit so that we can put forward a bill that works for the American people. Madam Speaker, if we adopt this Motion to Recommit, we will instruct the Committee on House Administration to consider an amendment to remove all public financing from this legislation…. It’s one reason I am opposed to H.R. 1 and giving Democrats another chance to join me in stopping this charade -- stopping enriching themselves and their own campaign. This is one last chance before you do it again.” (Rep. Davis, Press Release, 3/03/2021)

  • REP. DAVIS: “[O]ver the last couple of days, I have spoken a lot about my opposition to this bill’s creation of a public fund filled with dollars from corporate finance to directly fund the campaign coffers of every member of this institution and candidates. And my Democratic colleagues who continue to say this is not public funding or corporate donations because it is corporate fines. So what is the truth? … [I]t is really a laundering machine. So they launder that money, that corporate money that we cannot accept right now, into the Treasury … this new laundered money, this taxpayer money, because it’s public, it’s under the control of us, then goes out exponentially to all of us, to our campaigns to pay for attack ads, fundraisers, mailers, phone calls, whatever you want. But either way, it’s government spending -- government spending, corporate dollars directly to us. This is and should be prohibited. But H.R. 1 changes that. It puts more money into politics and not less.” (Rep. Davis, Press Release, 3/03/2021)

Every single House Democrat voted against Rep. Rodney Davis’ (R-IL) motion, ensuring their legislation would allow public money to flow into politicians’ campaign coffers. (H.R.1, Roll Call Vote #61: Motion rejected 210-219: D 0-219; R 210-0, 3/03/2021)

The Democrat Politician Protection Act Still Would Transform The FEC From A Bipartisan Body ‘Into A Partisan Weapon’ ‘With Likely Ruinous Effect On Our Political System’

SEN. McCONNELL: “[A]mong the many fairly blatant power plays built into this legislation is a naked attempt to turn our neutral Federal Election Commission into a partisan weapon…. [T]he Democrat Politician Protection Act would take the FEC down to a five-member body and give sitting presidents the power to appoint the chairperson -- who holds the keys to determine who to investigate and what enforcement to pursue. The evenness of the FEC is a vital way to ensuring Americans’ political speech — and campaigns for public office — are regulated fairly and evenhandedly. Of course that needs to be done on a bipartisan basis. But the Democrats want to throw that right out the window and carve out a partisan majority on this crucial commission.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/13/2019)

NINE FORMER FEC COMMISSIONERS: “[S. 1] would transform the FEC from a bipartisan, six-member body to a five-member body subject to, and indeed designed for, partisan control…. If Congress wanted to destroy confidence in the fairness of American elections, it is hard to imagine a better first step than to eviscerate the FEC’s bipartisan structure.” (9 Former FEC Commissioners, Letter to Speaker Pelosi, Rep. McCarthy, and Sens. Schumer and McConnell, 2/09/2021)

  • “We write out of deep concern for the threat that the self-styled ‘For the People Act’ (H.R. 1 and S. 1 in the current Congress …) poses to the long-standing bipartisan structure of the Federal Election Commission a concern based on our many years of experience as commissioners of the FEC…. We are all former members of the FEC. Collectively, we have over six decades of service on the Commission. Most of us served as Chair of the FEC, and at least one of us was serving on the Commission at all times between 1998 and 2020.” (9 Former FEC Commissioners, Letter to Speaker Pelosi, Rep. McCarthy, and Sens. Schumer and McConnell, 2/09/2021)
  • “[W]e believe that [H.R. 1], by shifting the Commission from a bipartisan, six-member body to a five-member body subject to partisan control, would be highly detrimental to the agency’s credibility. It would lead to more partisanship in enforcement and in regulatory matters, shattering public confidence in the decisions of the FEC. The Commission depends on bipartisan support and universal regard for the fairness of its actions. The [bill] frustrates these goals with likely ruinous effect on our political system.” (9 Former FEC Commissioners, Letter to Speaker Pelosi, Rep. McCarthy, and Sens. Schumer and McConnell, 2/09/2021)

Democrats’ Partisan Legislation Would Still Expand The Newly Partisan FEC’s Power To Regulate Vast Swathes Of Political Speech

SEN. McCONNELL: “Democrats are also coming after Americans’ free speech. The Federal Election Commission was set up after Watergate to be a bipartisan panel by design. The FEC intentionally needs bipartisan consensus to throw a penalty flag. Washington Democrats want to scrap that. Their bill would convert the FEC into an odd-numbered, partisan body. And this partisan FEC would get even greater scope to nose around in even more of Americans’ speech and activities.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/04/2021)

INSTITUTE FOR FREE SPEECH: “H.R. 1 would: Unconstitutionally regulate speech that mentions a federal candidate or elected official at any time under a vague, subjective, and dangerously broad standard that asks whether the speech ‘promotes,’ ‘attacks,’ ‘supports,’ or ‘opposes’ (‘PASO’) the candidate or official. This standard is impossible to understand and would likely regulate any mention of an elected official who hasn’t announced their retirement.” (“Analysis of H.R. 1 (Part One):’For the People Act’ Is Replete with Provisions for the Politicians,” Institute for Free Speech, 2/2021)

The Bill Still Includes Mandates Forcing Organizations To Publicize Their Donors In Order To Open Them Up To Political Attacks, Something Even The ACLU Opposes

“Some of the disclosure requirements in H.R. 1 have drawn objections from across the ideological spectrum. The American Civil Liberties Union has said that it supports disclosures tied to ‘express advocacy’ of a candidate’s election or defeat. The bill goes further, though, requiring disclosures in connection with policy debates that refer to candidates.” (“Constitutional Challenges Loom Over Proposed Voting Bill,” The New York Times, 5/05/2021)

SEN. McCONNELL: “The bill also tramples on citizens’ privacy with new mandates that would intensify ‘cancel culture’ and help mobs harass people for their private views.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 3/04/2021)

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION (ACLU): “Unfortunately, the DISCLOSE Act of 2019 [included in H.R. 1] reaches beyond those bounds, and, like its predecessors, strikes the wrong balance between the public’s interest in knowing who supports or opposes candidates for office and the vital associational privacy rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. The upshot of the DISCLOSE Act, and the essence of why we oppose it, is that it would chill the speech of issue advocacy groups and non-profits such as the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, or the NRA that is essential to our public discourse and protected by the First Amendment.” (ACLU, Letter to Reps. McGovern and Cole, 3/01/2019)

  • ACLU: “[T]he bill would also require disclosure of an overbroad number of donors. Even with the $10,000 trigger, many donors to issue advocacy organizations may be surprised to find themselves held responsible for communications they may not know about, or, potentially, even support. It is unfair to hold donors responsible for every communication in which an organization engages. Moreover, it is unclear how such an overbroad requirement serves the government’s interest in providing the electorate information about who is supporting or opposing a candidate for office. The Constitution requires a healthy respect for associational privacy. In NAACP v. Alabama, the Supreme Court recognized that “[i]nviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.” For that reason alone, we should be very cautious when contemplating invasions of that privacy. Because the DISCLOSE Act would expose the private associations of an overbroad number of donors, it fails to respect this first constitutional principle.” (ACLU, Letter to Reps. McGovern and Cole, 3/01/2019)

Amicus Brief from the ACLU, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, KNIGHT FIRST AMENDMENT INSTITUTE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN (HRC), and the PEN AMERICAN CENTER: “The disclosure law at issue here, at least as it has been implemented by California, risks undermining the freedom to associate for expressive purposes. That freedom, in turn, is fundamental to our democracy, and has long been protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments. A critical corollary of the freedom to associate is the right to maintain the confidentiality of one’s associations, absent a strong governmental interest in disclosure. If the State could categorically demand disclosure of associational information, the ability of citizens to organize to defend values out of favor with the majority would be seriously diminished. As this Court recognized in NAACP v. Alabama ex rel. Patterson,357 U.S. 449 (1958), the compelled disclosure of an expressive association’s members or supporters threatens to chill free association, because people may refrain from exercising those freedoms rather than expose themselves to government reprisal or private retaliation…. In general, the compelled disclosure of associational information to the public dramatically increases the risk of private retaliation against the members and supporters of potentially controversial groups, is more likely to chill the exercise of associational freedoms …” (“Brief Amici Curiae Of The American Civil Liberties Union, Inc., American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, Inc., Naacp Legal Defense And Educational Fund, Inc., Knight First Amendment Institute At Columbia University, Human Rights Campaign, And Pen American Center, Inc., In Support Of Petitioners,” Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Becerra, Nos. 19-251 & 19-255, Supreme Court of the United States, 3/01/2021)

The Democrat Politician Protection Act Is Still ‘A Sweeping Federalized Overhaul Of The Electoral System’ That ‘Usurps States’ Authority Over Elections’

SEN. McCONNELL: “Perhaps most worrisome of all is the unprecedented proposal to federalize our nation’s elections, giving Washington D.C. politicians even more control over who gets to come here in the first place. Hundreds of pages are dedicated to telling states how to run their elections, from when and where they must take place, to the procedures they have to follow, to the machines they have to use.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 1/29/2019)

Democrats Even Admit ‘That’s Really What This Bill Is About’

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), House Administration Committee Chair: “I would just note that I understand the gentleman’s objection to federalizing federal election eligibility, but that’s really what this bill is about.” (U.S. House of Representatives Administration Committee, Markup, 2/26/2019)

State Officials: ‘This Unnecessary Bill Federalizes And Micromanages State Election Systems, Unconstitutionally And Unwisely Interferes With The Authority Of The States, And Restricts The Choices Of Our Citizens’

Democratic state-level election director: “I can’t guarantee it’s not going to be a total clusterfuck the first election.” (Jessica Huseman, Op-Ed, “How This Voting Rights Bill Could Turn the Next Election Into a Clusterf*ck,” Daily Beast, 3/20/2021)

16 CURRENT AND FORMER SECRETARIES OF STATE: “As the chief election officials of our respective states who are responsible for administering the election process, from the registration of voters to their casting of ballots to the counting and tallying of votes, we are writing to express our deep concern over, and opposition to, HR 1. This unnecessary bill federalizes and micromanages state election systems, unconstitutionally and unwisely interferes with the authority of the states, and restricts the choices of our citizens in conducting elections. It also imposes crippling financial mandates on state governments and severely limits our ability to ensure the balance of access and security of the election process, while eliminating the verification of state qualification standards for voters.” (16 Secretaries of State, Letter to Speaker Pelosi and Rep. McCarthy, 3/06/2019)

  • 16 CURRENT AND FORMER SECRETARIES OF STATE: “HR 1 creates federal mandates for problems that currently do not exist. No provision of federal law requires states to offer registration on the day of election, to preregister minors to vote, to require weeks of early voting, mandatory online registration, or to offer automatic voter registration simply because the person is on a government list. These are extremely costly mandates that should only become the law of a state after the legislatures of those states decide to implement them. The implementation of automatic voter registration has proven to be more complicated and costly than anticipated. The changes in HR 1 would impose extraordinary expenses to our election infrastructure.” (16 Secretaries of State, Letter to Speaker Pelosi and Rep. McCarthy, 3/06/2019)

20 STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL: “As the chief legal officers of our states, we write regarding H.R.1, the For the People Act of 2021 (the ‘Act’) and any companion Senate bill. 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. Under both the Elections Clause of Article I of the Constitution and the Electors Clause of Article II, States have principal—and with presidential elections, exclusive—responsibility to safeguard the manner of holding 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.” (20 Attorneys General, Letter to Reps. Pelosi and McCarthy and Sens. Schumer and McConnell, 03/03/2021)

  • “Despite recent calls for political unity, the Act takes a one-sided approach to governing and usurps states’ authority over elections. With confidence in elections at a record low, the country’s focus should be on building trust in the electoral process. 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.” (20 Attorneys General, Letter to Reps. Pelosi and McCarthy and Sens. Schumer and McConnell, 03/03/2021)

Democrats’ Partisan Election Takeover Still Undermines State Voter ID Laws While Forcing States To Accept Ballot Harvesting

The Democrat Politician Protection Act Would Still ‘Force All 50 States To Allow The Absurd Practice Of Ballot Harvesting’

SEN. McCONNELL: “[House Democrats] want to force all 50 states to allow the absurd practice of ballot harvesting, where paid operatives can show up at polling places carrying a thick stack of filled-out ballots with other people’s names on them.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/25/2021)

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL EDITORIAL BOARD: “H.R.1 would overrule state laws against ballot harvesting, letting Americans nationwide ‘designate any person’ to return a vote, provided the carrier ‘does not receive any form of compensation based on the number of ballots.’ Also, states ‘may not put any limit on how many voted and sealed absentee ballots any designated person can return.’ Yes, paid partisan operatives could go door to door, amassing thousands of votes, as long as they billed by the hour.” (Editorial, “Making Every Election Like 2020,” The Wall Street Journal, 3/01/2021)

PAGE 203: “(2) PERMITTING VOTERS TO DESIGNATE OTHER PERSON TO RETURN BALLOT. —The  State— (A) shall permit a voter to designate any person to return a voted and sealed absentee ballot to the post office, a ballot drop-off location, tribally designated building, or election office so long as the person designated to return the ballot does not receive any form of compensation based on the number of ballots that the person has returned and no individual, group, or organization provides compensation on this basis; and (B) may not put any limit on how many voted and sealed absentee ballots any designated person can return to the  post office, a ballot drop off location, tribally designated building, or election office.” (S.1, 117th Congress)

The Democrat Politician Protection Act Still ‘Would Dismantle Meaningful Voter ID Laws’ In State After State

SEN. McCONNELL: “[House Democrats] want to forbid states from implementing Voter I.D. or doing simple things like checking their voter rolls against change-of-address submissions.” (Sen. McConnell, Remarks, 2/25/2021)

20 STATE ATTORNEYS GENERAL: “Perhaps most egregious is the Act’s limitations on voter ID laws. Fairly considered, requiring government-issued photo identification at the polls represents nothing more than a best practice for election administration. Government-issued photo identification has been the global standard for documentary identification for decades. … Voter ID laws remain popular, with thirty-five states requiring some form of documentary personal identification at the polls. Yet the Act would dismantle meaningful voter ID laws by allowing a statement, as a substitute for prior-issued, document-backed identification, to “attest[] to the individual’s identity and . . . that the individual is eligible to vote in the election.” This does little to ensure that voters are who they say they are. Worse, it vitiates the capacity of voter ID requirements to protect against improper interference with voting rights. … Robust voter ID laws, however, require all voters to present photo identification, i.e., objective, on-the-spot confirmation of the right to vote that immediately refutes bad-faith challenges based on vaguely articulated suspicions. Fair election laws treat all voters equally. By that standard, the Act is not a fair election law.” (20 Attorneys General, Letter to Reps. Pelosi and McCarthy and Sens. Schumer and McConnell, 3/03/2021)

But Requiring An ID To Vote Remains A Broadly Popular Policy For Americans

“Voter ID, a major component of Georgia’s new election law, is popular among people despite criticism about the measure from Democratic leaders, according to recent polls.” (“Voter ID Rules Popular Among Public: Polls,” Washington Examiner, 4/02/2021)

According to an April Pew Research Center survey, 76% of Americans, including 61% of Democrats, favor “requiring all voters to show government-issued photo identification to vote.” (Pew Research Center, 4/22/2021)

“The [AP-NORC] poll found bipartisan agreement on requiring all voters to provide photo identification at their polling place -- something that more than a dozen mostly Republican-led states have implemented…. Overall, 72% are in favor of requiring voters to provide photo identification to vote, while just 13% are opposed. Ninety-one percent of Republicans and 56% of Democrats are in favor.” (The Associated Press, 4/02/2021)

“[T]he public strongly supports one of the other major stipulations of Georgia’s new law: the ID requirement for absentee voting. That latest YouGov/The Economist poll found that Americans support requiring a photo ID in order to vote absentee, 53 percent to 28 percent. And Georgians are even more supportive: 74 percent of registered voters in the UGA/AJC poll backed requiring voters to include a copy of their photo ID or other documentation in order to vote by mail. Indeed, voter ID laws … are quite popular in general. In another national poll out this week from Selzer & Co./Grinnell College, 56 percent of adults favored keeping laws that require people to show a photo ID before voting, while just 36 percent wanted to eliminate them. And this isn’t an opinion Americans suddenly adopted …  In fall 2018, the Pew Research Center found that 76 percent of Americans favored requiring everyone to show a government-issued photo ID in order to vote, versus only 23 percent who opposed it.” (FiveThirtyEight, 4/02/2021)



Related Issues: First Amendment, Senate Democrats, Campaigns & Elections