As Republicans in Congress fight to secure stricter election laws, House Democrats passed a sweeping an election reform and voting rights bill in a 220-210 vote on Wednesday.
HR 1, also known as For The People Act, included drastic changes to US election laws. The newly passed bill would require states to offer mail-in ballots, a minimum of 15 days of early voting, while also demanding same-day and online voter registration.
In addition, the legislation would create independent commissions to challenge congressional districts in an attempt to end partisan gerrymandering. The bill also included; automatic voter registration, resources to combat foreign interference in elections, would allow convicted felons to vote, and would designate Election Day a national holiday for federal employees.
The act which made its way through the House with flying colors will have a hard time gaining enough votes to pass in the Senate.
According to supporters of the bill, the measure is a step in the right direction to restore faith in the electoral system. The bill seeks to expand voting rights and create election transparency. However, critics of the bill believe otherwise.
Republicans blasted HR 1 on the House floor Tuesday, arguing it would lead to highly-controversial ballot harvesting—which is currently illegal in several states– and would ultimately result in election fraud.
"Second: H.R. 1 would legalize voting for convicted felons all over the country even if they were convicted of election fraud. Does that make sense to you? Not only is this dangerous, it’s unconstitutional," House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said in a floor speech on Tuesday.
"Third: H.R. 1 would weaken the security of our elections and make it harder to protect against voter fraud. Here’s how: It would automatically register voters from DMV and other government databases. Voting is a right, not a mandate," McCarthy said. "In most cases, this legislation would actually prevent officials from removing ineligible voters from the rolls and would make it much more difficult to verify the accuracy of voter information. So future voters might be underage or dead or illegal immigrants or registered two or three times. Democrats just don’t care."
Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) argued the creation of a six-to-one federal campaign match on small donations is a misuse of taxpayer dollars, The Hill reported.
"So they launder that money, that corporate money that we cannot accept right now into the Treasury and it comes out clean as public money. It's money that used to be used for things like Crime Victims Funds," said Davis.
"Instead, this new laundered money, this taxpayer money, because it's public, it's under the control of us, then goes out exponentially to all of us, to our campaigns to pay for attack ads, fundraisers, mailers, phone calls, whatever you want. But either way, it's government spending, government sending corporate dollars directly to us. This is and should be prohibited."
A version of this bill passed in the House last year but was dead upon arrival in the Senate.