Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has called on House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to oppose a federal takeover of elections and support election law reforms.
In a letter on Monday, Raffensperger called on the GOP’s congressional leadership to “remain steadfast” in opposing the Democrats’ 700-page voting reform bill, known as the “For the People Act,” or H.R.1.
The legislation is hotly disputed and contentious, with detractors claiming it is a blatant attempt to permanently slant elections in favor of Democrats and supporters claiming it will make voting more accessible and secure.
An opponent of H.R.1, Raffensperger proposed five measures he said would “strengthen the integrity of every election in America” and “reassure the public that our Congress is committed to ideals upon which our great nation was founded.”
“What I am requesting is your leadership in updating and modernizing current federal law, as well as your oversight in addressing what states need to do better in enhancing voter confidence in election outcomes,” Raffensperger wrote (pdf).
Raffensperger called for an update to the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), also known as “Motor Voter,” and support for stronger maintenance of voting lists.
“According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 7 million Americans move to a different state every year,” he wrote. “The 90-day blackout periods, and the onerous procedures to remove voters who no longer live in a state, allow voter lists to be more and more out of date.”
He noted that this was “especially true” in states that don’t prioritize “even following the low bar set for list maintenance in the current NVRA.”
Raffensperger said that improving list maintenance will improve election administration, lower costs, and enhance confidence in election outcomes.
Photo ID for Voters
The Georgia secretary of state also advocated for photo ID requirements in all modes of voting—which he noted 80 percent of Americans supported—a ban on “ballot harvesting” in federal elections, and risk-limiting audits performed in each state following a federal election.
“Again, technology exists to make this easy,” he wrote. “Election research shows that Voter ID laws do not impact turnout, which is consistent with the record turnout Georgia experienced in 2022.”
He argued that signature matching as a form of voter verification was more subjective than photo IDs.
“Implementing a nationwide photo ID requirement would be a significant step in helping ensure the integrity of elections across the country,” he wrote.
Critics of photo ID requirements argue such laws are the most restrictive version of voter identification rules, with the Democrat-aligned legal organization Democracy Docket saying they require “more documentation than is necessary to prove one’s identity at the polls.”
‘Only American Citizens Can Vote’
Raffensperger lastly called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to state that only American citizens can vote in any American election. He argued that this would strengthen public trust and election integrity, and send a unifying message to American citizens whether born or naturalized.
“Since 1996, federal law has required American citizenship as a prerequisite to voting in federal elections,” he wrote. “However as of 2022, 16 municipalities in the U.S. allowed noncitizens to vote in some or all local elections (two in California, 11 in Maryland, one in New York, and two in Vermont.)”
“Only four state constitutions explicitly require United States citizenship to vote in state and local elections,” he continued. “Yet across the country, some jurisdictions have either current permissions or existing proposals to loosen that requirement and make exceptions for non-citizen voting.”
Raffensperger emphasized that his proposed reforms are reasonable and common sense and that the implementation of similar laws in Georgia has made the state “a national model for a reasonable balance between election security and voter convenience.”
H.R.1 was introduced in 2019 and passed the House of Representatives in 2021, but it has not yet passed the U.S. Senate.
Among its provisions, the bill would mandate automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration, early voting and voting by mail expansion, restrictions on voter ID laws, election security measures, and disclosure requirements for political spending.
Election integrity officials think that same-day voting and automated voter registration may lead to mistakes and fraud on voter rolls. Election authorities do not have enough time to check relevant voter information while voting on the same day, and automated registration may increase the chance of noncitizen voting.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles revealed in September 2018 that it had sent over 23,000 erroneous voter registrations to the California secretary of state’s office as a result of the state’s automatic voter registration law.
Among its other items, H.R.1 would also make Election Day a federal holiday, assign redistricting responsibilities to independent commissions, and prohibit members of Congress from serving on corporate boards.
As a measure to increase voting access, states would also be required to offer early voting and online voter registration, and allow absentee ballots to be issued without requiring a reason for their request.
Further, a proposed amendment, that was ultimately rejected, proposed to reduce the voting age to 16 years old.
When the legislation was introduced, McCarthy, then House minority leader, said H.R.1 was designed to “put a thumb on the scale of every election in America and keep the Swamp swampy.”
Meanwhile, then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi hailed the bill as “a historic reform package to restore the promise of our nation’s democracy.” She said it would restore “the peoples’ faith that government works for the public interest, the peoples’ interest, not the special interest.”
When the bill passed the House in 2021, Hans von Spakovsky, senior fellow and manager of the election law reform initiative at the Heritage Foundation, told The Epoch Times that it would essentially void “all of the safety protocols and security measures and states have been put in place to protect the integrity of the election process.”