Just hours before the House of Representatives is set to vote on the For the People Act (H.R. 1), attorneys general from 20 states have signed a letter of condemnation, blasting the election reform law for a series of unconstitutional controversies.
The censure, led by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita, takes aim at one of the priority bills introduced by House Democrats this session, the “For the People Act,” a massive election reform law that would allow for national mass mail-in voting, voter registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, permanent voter registration, and a new voter registration system. The bill includes: allowing national mass mail-in voting, voter registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, permanent early voting, minimum verification of online registration, legalized ballot collection, federal matching funds for private donor candidates, and voting rights for felons after they have served their sentences.
According to Fox, the 20 attorneys general said that if the “For the People Act” eventually becomes law, they will appeal to protect the Constitution, state sovereignty, and electoral and civil rights.
The attorneys general pointed to the bill’s “limitations” on voter identification laws, accusing the law of “making it nearly impossible to identify voters by name” and noting that “requiring” identification before voting is an election administration issue. The bill’s “limitations” on voter identification laws accused the law of being “virtually impossible to identify voters by name,” noting that “requiring” identification before voting “is a best practice in election administration. They said, “Government-issued photo ID has been the global standard for document identification for decades.”
The bill would also limit the way states maintain voter registration rolls. Under the bill, officials could remove the registrations of voters when they have “‘some other unspecified’ objective and reliable evidence” that the person is ineligible to vote.
“This monstrous bill betrays the U.S. Constitution, dangerously federalizes state elections, and undermines the integrity of the ballot box,” Rokita said in a statement. “As a former chief election officer and current attorney general, I know this will be a disaster for the integrity of elections and for confidence in the (election) process that has long been developed to instill the concept of ‘one person, one vote.'”
In their letter, the attorneys general warned lawmakers that they should “consider the bill’s constitutional loopholes, as well as policy criticism from state officials.” They wrote, “The bill would subvert the constitutional structure, hijack state resources, confuse and confound the electoral process, and erode confidence in our electoral and governance systems.”
The attorneys general point out that the For the People Act implicates the Constitution’s Electors Clause, which guarantees state legislatures the power to “directly allocate presidential electors” and separately gives Congress the more limited power to “fix the Time of election of electors.” In the case of congressional elections, both the states and Congress have the power to set the “time, place and manner” of the election.
The attorney general said the Constitution is markedly different in its delineation of the exclusive powers of the two, with state legislatures having a high degree of power over election laws. “This distinction was not an accident of drafting (the Constitution when it was omitted). After extensive debate, the framers of the Constitution intended to exclude Congress from deciding how to choose presidential electors in order to avoid the president’s dependence on Congress for status and power.”
“‘States’ are exclusive in their power to define the method of selecting presidential electors, meaning that Congress may not force states to allow presidential voting by mail, or curbside ballot, for example.”
2019 Chief Justice John Roberts (R-Ohio) has said that when it comes to congressional elections, the Framers “assigned the issue to the state legislatures and expressly left it to the federal Congress to check and balance.” The attorneys general have thus attacked the “For the People Act” for not giving Congress a check-and-balance role, but for overreaching by taking away the role of the primary election regulator.
The attorneys general also attacked the For the People Act’s independent commissions, which states are required to use when redrawing congressional district lines after each census. When legislatures draw boundary lines, they said, voters may punish egregious behavior in the next election; government commissions do not.
At the end of their letter, the attorneys general faulted the bill for “requiring political speakers to disclose their donor lists. The attorneys general said the move involved naming, shaming and blacklisting those with different views, in other words, the aim was to censor those who disagreed with the bill’s authors.
The 20 attorneys general concluded their letter by promising that if the For the People Act becomes law, they will “seek legal remedies to protect the Constitution, the sovereignty of all nations, our elections and the rights of our citizens.
The House on Wednesday canceled a vote scheduled for Thursday (March 4) amid reports of a possible security threat to the Capitol. Lawmakers are expected to vote late at night.