Conservative group says polling shows Democrats’ voting rights bill ‘out of sync with American voters’
The Honest Elections Project, a conservative group that advocates for more restrictive voting laws, is releasing polling on Tuesday arguing that H.R. 1, Democrats’ sweeping election reform and voting rights bill passed by the House earlier this month, is “out of sync with American voters.”
The group’s memo, which will be sent to members of Congress and state legislators on Tuesday ahead of a critical Senate hearing on the bill, cites polling it commissioned in which a majority of respondents support voter identification laws and agree that “strong safeguards and ballot protections inspire confidence by making it harder to hide fraud.”
“H.R. 1 is out of sync with American voters. Few embrace its particular provisions, or its guiding principle that election integrity and voter confidence measures make voting ‘hard’ and that Congress must impose new laws that eliminate them,” Honest Elections Project Executive Director Jason Snead writes in the memo, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill.
The memo comes as the Senate Rules Committee prepares to hold a hearing on the Senate companion to H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act, on Wednesday.
The House passed the election reform and voting rights bill mostly along party lines in early March, but the measure faces an uncertain fate in the 50-50 Senate, where it is unlikely to be passed absent a change to filibuster rules.
The legislation would require states to offer mail-in ballots, establish electronic voter registration to enable same-day voting and expand early voting. It also includes a workaround for voter identification laws by saying that states that have them should allow voters without identifications to provide a sworn written statement attesting to their identity.
And it calls for the establishment of an independent commission to redraw congressional districts every 10 years in an effort to put a stop to partisan gerrymandering.
The legislation says that states should permit a voter to designate a person to return their absentee ballot, which Republicans have criticized as amounting to ballot harvesting. It also overhauls the campaign finance system, including by imposing a 6 to 1 federal campaign match on small donations.
Democrats have described H.R. 1 as vital to restore faith in the election process, uphold voting rights and reform campaign finance.
The memo that will be circulated on Tuesday relies on an online survey of 1,200 registered voters conducted by the Polling Company by Honest Elections Project’s 501(c)(4) organization. The poll was conducted from March 4 to March 10 and lists a margin of error of 2.83 percentage points.
It found that 77 percent of respondents agree that voters should be required to show a photo identification when they vote and that 66 percent agree that voters who cast absentee or mail-in ballots should have to comply with a photo identification requirement.
The poll also found that 80 percent agree that “election fraud disenfranchises voters and casts doubt on the legitimacy of the democratic process” and 80 percent also agree that “strong safeguards and ballot protections inspire confidence by making it harder to hide fraud, and easier to dispel false allegations of fraud.”
Sixty-two percent of respondents believe the practice of political candidates, campaigns or paid organizers going door to door to collect absentee ballots directly from voters should be illegal.
The memo also argues that American democracy is currently suffering a crisis of credibility, stating that the 2020 presidential election “was marred by confusion, haphazard changes to voting laws, and a progressive legal blitz that used courts to undemocratically weaken voting safeguards and skew the rules for partisan advantage.”
“Millions of voters harbor doubts about the legitimacy of future elections. Left to linger, that distrust may harden into apathy and disengagement, and drive public discord to alarming new heights,” it states.
Polls have shown that Republicans did not accept the outcome of the 2020 election amid former President Trump’s frequent and false assertions that victory was stolen from him through widespread voter fraud. There was no evidence of widespread fraud in the election that would have changed the final result of Biden’s win.
An NPR-PBS NewsHour-Marist survey released in December found that 61 percent of Americans overall — but only 24 percent of Republicans — trust that the results of the 2020 election were accurate.
In a statement supporting H.R. 1 following its passage by the House, President Biden said that the bill is needed especially in the wake of a “unprecedented assault on our democracy,” referring to Trump’s effort to overturn the election results and the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol.
“The right to vote is sacred and fundamental — it is the right from which all of our other rights as Americans spring. This landmark legislation is urgently needed to protect that right, to safeguard the integrity of our elections, and to repair and strengthen our democracy,” Biden said, adding that he looked forward to working with Congress to “refine and advance this important bill.”
Republicans, however, have criticized the bill as a power grab and an overreach of states’ rights. They have been critical of various provisions of the bill, including one that would require states to automatically register felons to vote after they have completed sentences.
The memo that is being released Tuesday coincides with a broader push by conservative groups to advocate against the passage of H.R. 1. These groups include Heritage Action, the Susan B. Anthony List, Club for Growth, Family Research Council and Tea Party Patriots, among others.