Letter: Election bill provisions call processes into question

To the editor:

I have a different take on HR 1 than the view represented by the League of Women Voters of Brown County board member Judith East (letter published March 10).

If the bill is passed by the Senate and becomes law, years of constitutional court challenges lie ahead. This bill was passed with zero public hearings, astonishing given the intent to federalize and micromanage state and local election laws.

Contrary to the belief of many, our rights are not granted to us by the federal government. As elegantly stated in the Declaration of Independence, we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights and goes on to state that governments derive their powers from the consent of the governed.

The Constitution spells out the structure of our federal system of government and the powers granted said government by the people. Powers not specifically granted to the federal government are reserved for the states.

Regarding election laws, the relevant provision in the Constitution is Article I, Section 4, Clause 1, which grants Congress the authority to override state laws pertaining to “times, places, and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives …” not for Presidential or local elections.

The ability to challenge the law itself raises a red flag, as all challenges must inconveniently be filed in the DC District Court rather than locations where plaintiffs actually reside. The worst election law changes made in 2020 would be nationalized and basic election integrity and security protocols would be eliminated.

Space does not permit me to address many of the problems with the bill, so I will only mention a few:

  • Voter ID laws would be banned, so individuals merely need to sign a statement that they are who they say they are.
  • Enshrines ballot harvesting, allowing individuals to gather up absentee ballots from others. This eliminates the integrity of a chain of custody that is designed to take the completed ballot from the voter directly into the hands of election officials.
  • States are required by the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 to keep voting lists accurate and current, but this bill prevents that.
  • Requires states to restore voting rights to felons, an unconstitutional provision since Section 2 of the 14th Amendment authorizes states to decide whether convicted felons can vote.
  • Substantial restrictions on free speech and campaign contributions are imposed that violate the 1st Amendment. The thrust of many provisions is simply to protect current officials from criticism.
  • Changes the relatively independent Federal Elections Commission to a partisan body controlled by the President.

I have always been satisfied and impressed with the people and the voting process in Brown County, including same-day voting and early voting experiences. I would be dumbfounded if I was not asked to show proof of identity; I would lose faith in the integrity of the process.

Don Stuart, Nashville

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