In the wake of the controversial 2020 presidential election, lawmakers in dozens of states, mostly red states like Oklahoma, are taking steps to try to prevent a recurrence of what some still insist was significant voter fraud, despite a lack of evidence. Lawmakers in Washington, however, could get in their way.
Last week, House Democrats used their slim majority to pass H.R. 1, the so-called ‘For the People Act’, a sweeping election reform measure that would expand voting access and lessen the influence of dark money. Among other things, the bill would require elections officials in each state to establish automatic voter registration systems and would guarantee same-day registration at both early voting sites and at precincts on Election Day.
Republicans on Capitol Hill call the bill a blatant power grab and are determined to stop it from becoming law.
“While the majority claims this bill will reform our political system, the reality is that the changes in the bill would likely lead to a greater incidence of voter fraud,” said Rep. Stephanie Bice, (R) OK-5.
Congresswoman Bice expressed that concern during debate on the floor last week. In an interview Thursday, she doubled down on her concerns.
“H.R. 1 is a bill that would actually put us on the path to federalizing our elections,” Bice said.
Democrats see it very differently, and following the bill’s 220-210 passage last Wednesday, celebrated what they see as important hedge against the actions being taken in statehouses across the country.
“Over 200 bills are being put together,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, (D) California. “Provisions they are putting forth to suppress the vote.”
Members of Oklahoma’s delegation say that is just not true: “There is no voter suppression,” said Rep. Kevin Hern, (R) OK-1. “That’s just a political talking point.”
To back up his point, Congressman Hern notes that a record number of Americans just cast ballots in November. Hern said not only would this bill allow same-day registration nationwide, it would chip away at each state's constitutionally afforded right to control their elections.
“You can still do your state level, for now,” Hern said. “This would completely federalize all elections that have anything to do with the House, the Senate, and the presidency. And you have to be greatly concerned by that.”
Like other partisan bills making their way through the U.S. House, H.R. 1 faces an uphill battle in the Senate, where it will take 60 votes — and thus 10 Republicans — to pass.