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H.R. 1's attack on election integrity: How states can protect the vote

H.R. 1's attack on election integrity: How states can protect the vote
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Election integrity is absolutely essential for a free society to function, let alone thrive. Without it, the government lacks legitimate authority and the people’s confidence in said government can vanish in an instant.

Unfortunately, election integrity is under threat in the United States. The biggest threat comes in the form of House Resolution 1, the woefully misnamed "For the People Act." In short, H.R. 1 would eviscerate election integrity by allowing the federal government to supersede states in managing elections. In doing so, H.R. 1 would mandate states to offer unfettered mail-in voting among several other policies that would undermine, not reinforce, election integrity.

Former Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceThe Memo: What now for anti-Trump Republicans? Pelosi says GOP downplaying Capitol riot 'sick' and 'beyond denial' What's a party caucus chair worth? MORE describes H.R. 1 as “a massive 800-page election overhaul bill that would increase opportunities for election fraud, trample the First Amendment, further erode confidence in our elections, and forever dilute the votes of legally qualified eligible voters.”

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Pence is right. H.R. 1 is an unconstitutional behemoth of a bill that would weaken America’s vaunted voting system.

Fortunately, H.R. 1, which already passed in the House of Representatives, faces a daunting battle in the U.S. Senate — as long as the filibuster remains in place, at least.

Yet, even though the prospects for H.R. 1 becoming the law of the land remain low, states should take it upon themselves to ensure that election integrity is not diminished. There are many policies states can put in place to maintain election integrity. At the same time, there are many policies states should avoid to also guarantee the sanctity of elections.

First, the proactive measures.

States should constantly update and verify election rolls. According to a 2012 Pew study, “Approximately 24 million — one of every eight — voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. ... More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters.” And, it adds, “Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.”

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States should require identification to vote. In 2005, former President Jimmy CarterJimmy CarterWhy Cheney was toppled, and what it says about the GOP and Trump's claims Pollsters trade group: Biden-Trump surveys most inaccurate in 40 years Obama calls on governments to 'do their part' in increasing global vaccine supply MORE and former Secretary of State James Baker convened a Commission on Federal Election Reform, which found that “The electoral system cannot inspire public confidence if no safeguards exist to deter or detect fraud or to confirm the identity of voters. Photo IDs currently are needed to board a plane, enter federal buildings, and cash a check. Voting is equally important.”

Second, the preventive measures.

States should outlaw ballot harvesting. Unbeknownst to many, “Ballot harvesting is the practice in which political operatives collect absentee ballots from voters’ homes and drop them off at a polling place or election office. It may sound pretty innocuous, but this practice can and has been abused across the country,” according to the Committee on House Administration.

States should not expand mail-in balloting, which is rife with fraud. As Hans von Spakovsky, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, recently wrote, “Mail-in ballots are the ballots most vulnerable to being altered, stolen, or forged. Just look at the current investigation going on in Paterson, New Jersey, over a recent municipal election conducted entirely by mail. … Mail-in ballots also have a higher rejection rate than votes cast in person. In the Paterson case, election officials apparently rejected 1 in 5 ballots for everything from signatures on the ballots not matching the signatures of voters on file, to ballots not complying with the technical rules that apply to absentee ballots.”

The evidence is clear. If states want to hold secure, free and fair elections, they need to exercise common sense. Although the coronavirus pandemic was used as a justification for states to suspend these commonsense notions, we cannot let it become the new normal.

It is incumbent upon each and every state to ensure that every legal vote is counted. It also is the responsibility of every state to guarantee that fraudulent votes are minimized as much as possible.

The 2020 election proved that when Americans don’t have trust in the election process, bad things are bound to happen. Hopefully, states will take the simple measures to ensure that future elections are free from fraud. Faith in the electoral process is vital. And it is up to the states to instill faith, not fraud.

Chris Talgo (ctalgo@heartland.org) is senior editor at The Heartland Institute.