February 24, 2021
Washington, DC – Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) delivered this opening statement at today's hearing on elections. Davis's remarks focus on the federal election mandates, public funding of campaigns, and attacks on the First Amendment within H.R. 1, which is scheduled to be on the floor next week without going through a markup.
Davis has invited the only witness today who has experience running elections to testify about the real-life impact H.R. 1 would have on states and localities working to administer elections. The written testimony for Ricky Hatch, who is the County Clerk/Auditor for Weber County, Utah, can be found HERE.
CLICK HERE to watch the hearing happening now.
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Davis's written testimony:
Next week, the House will be considering H.R. 1 – 800 pages of election mandates and free speech regulations. Yet, this is the only hearing this committee will have on the issue and despite the bill changing from last Congress, we won't be marking up this bill that will impact millions of Americans' right to vote and to participate in the political process. If this bill were to become law, it will be the largest expansion of the federal government's role in elections that we have ever seen before.
The only thing more disappointing than the process is the bill itself. H.R. 1 federally mandates how states run their elections and forces a one-size-fits-all election system on our country, which is not only unconstitutional, but can lead to chaos and confusion for voters.
HR 1 mandates automatic voter registration;
Allows 16-year-olds to register to vote;
Mandates same-day voter registration;
Automatically gives felons the right to vote;
Forces states to count provisional ballots cast outside of the correct precinct;
Mandates vote-by-mail with prepaid postage;
Requires two weeks of early voting;
Extends election day;
Defeats state voter protections, such as voter identification and prohibits witness signature verification requirements for mail or absentee ballots;
Mandates ballot drop boxes;
Legalizes ballot harvesting;
Removes states' ability to determine their own redistricting procedures;
Makes the FEC a partisan agency;
Weaponizes the IRS to allow them to go after conservatives;
Creates a ‘speech czar' at the FEC;
And the list goes on and on.
We'll hear testimony from the only person who has experience administrating elections on why these one-size-fits-all policies simply won't work for every state and why these decisions should be left to states to determine the systems that work best for their voters.
In 2020, we saw chaos in our elections. States, that were not accustomed to vote by mail, struggled to implement it. This led to chaos in elections throughout the country and weakened voter confidence in the process—a real threat to democracy. Hundreds of thousands of people were unintentionally disenfranchised, many ballot integrity safeguards were abandoned, and election results took weeks – and sometimes months – to determine.
In lawsuits across the country, courts ruled against many of these changes, including in the State of Maine as groups filed to extend Maine's ballot receipt deadline, which this bill will do. The judge ruled against extending Maine's election day saying in part, "the harm to the State's electoral process outweighs the minor burdens imposed by those laws on the right to vote" and the Democrat Secretary of State at the time agreed saying, "This is a bit of a relief for us."
H.R. 1 makes this "pandemic-style" voting permanent. We had observers in New York, in California, in Pennsylvania, and other parts of the country and I think I speak for many Americans when I say, I don't want an election process like that again. But if H.R. 1 were to become law, that's exactly what the American people will get. We'd get a process that the American people don't trust.
Beyond providing more distrust in our election administration process, this bill gets the federal government involved in directly contributing to congressional campaigns. H.R. 1 would launder corporate dollars through the Treasury and use those dollars to publicly fund congressional campaigns – adding roughly $5 million to my colleagues' campaign coffers by providing a 6 to 1 funding match to small donations. I know when I speak with my constituents back home, establishing a program that helps me acquire more money for my campaign is not what they think the federal government should be working on, but that's the Democrats' top priority.
Under this bill, not only is the federal government deciding and providing direct contributions to congressional campaigns, but it's also now imposing heavy-handed rules intended to severely restrict free speech. H.R. 1 would impose vague standards that disadvantage all groups who wish to advocate on behalf of any legislative issue, specifically requiring them to disclose the names of donors who donate above a certain threshold. It weaponizes the IRS by permitting the agency to investigate and consider the political and policy persuasions of organizations before granting tax-exempt status, taking us back to the ill-fated Lois Lerner years. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) will now be partisan. H.R. 1 altered the current bipartisan makeup of the six- member commission to a partisan five-member commission and establishes a "Speech Czar", limiting free speech and creating a partisan commission with partisan enforcement priorities.
This nearly 800-page bill needs more than one hearing and it deserves a markup. This committee needs to hear from those who actually run our elections about the impact this could have. We should review the issues we saw during the 2020 election cycle and help states develop a better process. The American people deserve better from their elected officials.