May 24, 2021
Committee on House Administration Election Subcommittee Ranking Member Bryan Steil (R-Wis.) delivered this opening statement during today's hearing.
CLICK HERE to watch the ongoing hearing.
Text of Steil's prepared remarks:
Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding today's hearing on this important topic. It is absolutely critical we work to find ways to ensure our elections are free, fair, and secure. Photo ID is one simple, commonsense way that we can assure that every legal vote is counted and only legal votes are counted.
Thirty-six states currently require some form of ID to vote. In 2020, we saw more people cast their vote than in any other presidential election in history. In fact, voter turnout increased in every state, including some of the sharpest increases occurring in states that require an ID to vote. And further dispelling this myth that voter ID laws deter voting, voter turnout increased among all race groups in 2020.
Contrary to the written testimony put forward, in the real world, it's clear voter ID does not deter people from legally voting. The data just doesn't support it. Common sense doesn't support it. And the American people know that.
Among the states that ask for ID to vote is my home state of Wisconsin and the home state of the President of the United States, Delaware. Other states include Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and the list goes on.
And for the purpose of this hearing, I'll reiterate what I've said at previous hearings: Republicans want to ensure that every eligible person who wants to vote is able to cast a vote and that we make sure that every lawful ballot is counted according to state law. We want to make sure it is easy to vote and hard to cheat.
The far left has worked overtime to mischaracterized new voting laws across the United States. The left's characterizations of voter laws, like those recently passed in Georgia and other states, earned them multiple ‘pinocchios' and ‘pants on fire' ratings by fact checkers.
Unfortunately, Democrats' election legislation, H.R. 1 and S. 1, guts voter ID laws, and they continue to push this false narrative that election safeguards, like voter ID, are somehow racist or an attempt by Republicans to suppress the votes of Americans from minority communities.
Americans are used to showing their ID to do common things like open a bank account, buy alcohol, fly on a plane.
I do not believe my local bank, the Kwik Trip convenience store, or the TSA is racist when they ask for my ID.
It's common practice.
But even if a voter doesn't have an ID on Election Day, states have a process to still allow that voter to cast their vote by filling out a provisional ballot. This ensures their vote, if proven lawful, is counted and that voter is not denied their constitutional right to vote. Additionally, states often allow other forms of ID to vote. For example, Texas, whose voting practices are often unfairly criticized by the left, accepts a voter's current utility bill, bank statement, government check, birth certificate, or paycheck. Delaware also has a process. These options help make sure access to the polls for all Americans to legally participate in the process.
Equally as important as ensuring voters have access to the polls, is ensuring people have confidence in the election results and voter ID laws can help with this. Most Americans would agree that it's important that only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections. We recently saw in Illinois issues where hundreds of non-citizens were accidentally registered to vote through the state's Automatic Voter Registration program. This is a problem for the obvious reason that we don't want illegal votes cast in our elections, but it's also a problem because if an ineligible individual voted because flawed automatic registration made them think they could, they could face serious consequences if caught – all because of the state's error.
Unfortunately, the Democrats' legislation H.R. 1/S. 1 mandates Automatic Voter Registration, but doesn't mandate any of the safeguards be built in to ensure mistakes like this do not happen.
These kinds of issues also undermine public confidence in our elections, which we should all working to promote. We should all be supportive of safeguards, like voter ID, that do not make it more difficult for people to vote, but it does make it more difficult for people to cheat. The success of our elections is reliant on the trust voters place in the system. So if we're exploring ways to ensure more people vote, I think it would be good to have a discussion about how the level of confidence people have in the accuracy of our voting system can impact people's choice to vote or not.
With that, I thank the Chairman and look forward to hearing from our witnesses. I yield back.