4 Takeaways as House Looks to Restore Confidence in Elections

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Voter ID requirements, dead people on the voter rolls, foreign nationals voting, and even Hunter Biden’s laptop were on the minds of lawmakers and expert witnesses Thursday during a House hearing. 

The House Administration Committee held the first in a series of hearings leading up to reintroduction of the American Confidence in Elections Act, dubbed the ACE Act. Republicans previously introduced the bill when they were in the House minority. 

“Ultimately, this comprehensive legislation will provide states with tools to deliver voter confidence and enhance election integrity,” Administration Chairman Bryan Steil, R-Wis., said.

The legislation would prohibit voting by noncitizens, allow states to use “Real ID” as proof of citizenship, and direct the bipartisan Election Assistance Commission’s Standards Board to establish a federal forum to help states develop best election practices.

Republicans’ bill also would curb the use of private dollars to pay for election administration, sometimes referred to as “Zuckerbucks,” a reference to the donation of $400 million to operate local elections from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife in 2020. 

Here are four key takeaways from the House hearing focused on confidence in American elections. 

1. ‘Most Insidious Election Interference in U.S. History’

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, who supervises elections in his state, called out the now infamous letter orchestrated by Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign—and in particular by then campaign aide Antony Blinken, now U.S. secretary of state.

Blinken reportedly was instrumental in getting 51 former U.S. intelligence officials to sign a letter claiming that the contents of Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop had “all the classic earmarks” of Russian disinformation. 

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The letter from former intelligence officials was used as justification to suppress the Biden laptop story in social media and legacy media. 

A Media Research Center poll shortly after the 2020 election found that 36% of self-described Biden voters said they were unaware of evidence that Joe Biden was personally involved in his son Hunter’s business deals with China, a claim bolstered by emails found on the laptop. 

Of those Biden voters, 13%—or 4.6% of all Biden voters in the sample—said they would not have voted for him if they had known about the laptop contents. The Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog, said the shift could have turned the election in Donald Trump’s favor. 

“How do we restore faith in American elections? The devious misuse of federal agencies to throw the 2020 election was despicable,” West Virginia’s Warner said in opening remarks. 

Warner called out the Central Intelligence Agency, the Office of National Intelligence, the National Security Agency, and the FBI for allowing a disinformation campaign by the Biden campaign and Big Tech to happen on their watch. 

“The situation was made worse when candidate Joe Biden cited the letter to discredit President Trump,” Warner said. “Biden’s campaign knew the letter to be a lie. In what may be the most insidious election interference in U.S. history, the Biden campaign colluded with members and former members of the CIA, DNI, NSA, and even the FBI to launch a disinformation campaign against the American people for political purposes.”

Americans expect this type of effort from Russia or China, but not from within their own country, Warner said. 

“Every agency and every person who took part in this election interference should be excoriated, the participants fired, their security clearances revoked, and criminal charges initiated where appropriate,” Warner said. “That is the way to restore voter confidence.”

2. Noncitizen Voting a ‘Recipe for Foreign Interference’

House Republicans’ ACE Act would prohibit local jurisdictions from allowing noncitizen voting. Under the bill, Congress also would exercise its responsibility over the District of Columbia to require voter ID and annual maintenance of the city’s voter registration list, prohibit same-day registration, and prevent the process of ballot harvesting. 

“While the U.S. Constitution prohibits noncitizens from voting in elections, states need better tools to enforce these prohibitions,” Steil said. “The bill would ensure state and county election officials have access to information held only by federal agencies, like the Social Security death list and citizenship status, to keep their voter rolls maintained. In addition, the bill helps the Election Assistance Commission stay focused on their work.”

The District of Columbia is among the latest jurisdictions to allow for noncitizen voting, testified Hans von Spakovsky, a senior legal fellow and authority on elections at The Heritage Foundation. (The Daily Signal is Heritage’s multimedia news organization.)

“A move by some local jurisdictions, such as the District of Columbia, to allow aliens to vote in local elections disenfranchises citizens by diluting their votes, something we passed the Voting Rights Act to prevent,” von Spakovsky said.

“By allowing anyone who liv es in the nation’s capital for 30 days to vote in local elections, there is nothing to prevent aliens who are here illegally from voting, or diplomats from foreign embassies—many hostile to the United States—from voting in local elections,” he added.

3. ‘Common Sense to Require an ID to Vote’

During the hearing, von Spakovsky pushed back on the myth that requiring voter ID suppresses voting. He noted a report two years ago by the National Bureau of Economic Research that found voter ID requirements had no negative impact on turnout based on 10 years of data comparing states with voter ID laws and states with no such laws. 

“The conclusion was that voter ID has absolutely no effect on individuals; it doesn’t matter what race they are, it doesn’t matter what gender, it doesn’t matter what socio-economic group,” von Spakovsky said. “We know the public supports this. The polling is actually quite something. Americans disagree quite sharply on many issues. The one thing they agree on is that it’s common sense to require an ID to vote.”

Von Spakovsky went on to talk about Georgia, which was maligned by the Left for passing legislation in 2021 to extend existing voter ID requirements to mail-in-voting.

“Georgia had turnout six percentage points above the national turnout and it had better turnout than Delaware, the home state of the president, who harshly criticized the bill,” von Spakovsky told lawmakers. 

Georgia “had higher turnout than California, the home of [former House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi, who harshly criticized the bill,” he said. “And it had higher turnout than the state of New York, the home state of [Senate Majority Leader] Chuck Schumer, who harshly criticized the bill. So the idea that voter ID somehow keeps people from voting is just not true.”

Asked whether a utility bill could be sufficient for voter ID instead of a photo, von Spakovsky said he could produce an image of a utility bill using a personal computer. 

“You need a photo ID. The key thing to keep in mind is that [in] every single state that has put in an ID requirement—that’s now a majority of the states— … if you don’t have an ID, you can get one for free,” von Spakovsky said. “That has proven not to be a problem. We’ve got more than a decade’s worth of data to prove it’s not a problem.”

Democrats have opposed voter ID laws for decades, in both court and legislative battles. However, Rep. Terri Sewell, D-Ala., seemed unaware of the political and legal opposition to voter ID laws.

“No one in the movement for voting rights said we are against photo ID,” Sewell said. “What I’m against is if my state chooses to accept the photo ID of a hunting license, but not a student ID? Is that fair? I would say no. You are making it harder for students to vote. Every American should have access to the ballot box.”

 “When states pick winners and losers based on their policies and laws, I think there is a role for the federal government to play,” the Alabama Democrat added.

Later in the hearing, Rep. Stephanie Bice, R-Okla., explained the difference. 

“I want to make a distinction. A student ID is different from a hunting license in that it is not government issued,” Bice said. “A student ID is not government issued. There is that distinction, which is why there are certain laws protecting those IDs.”

“I’m not suggesting a student ID isn’t valid,” the Oklahoma Republican added. “I’m saying the law—especially in Oklahoma—is it has to be a government-issued ID. It can be tribal. It can be federal. It can be state.”

4. ‘Muddy Voter Rolls That Can Be Exploited’

In the state of Michigan, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat, is fighting a lawsuit to keep about the names of about 26,000 dead people on the voter rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation is suing Michigan to force removal of those names in compliance with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. 

“Some states are compliant with Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act and conduct routine list maintenance. However, others refuse to do that,” Rep. Barry Loudermilk, R-Ga., said. “In your opinion, why would a state intentionally refuse to perform list maintenance?

Such intentions aren’t good, said Ken Cuccinelli, national chairman of the Election Transparency Initiative and former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. 

“I think the reason for it is to build in problems, to have muddy voter rolls that can be exploited,” Cuccinelli, also a former Virginia attorney general, told the committee. “That’s the only rational explanation, and that’s unfortunate.” 

Rep. Greg Murphy, R-N.C., followed up later. 

“How do you think the American people would feel that the Michigan secretary of state would allow 27,000 dead people to be on voter rolls?” Murphy asked. 

Cuccinelli replied: “I think they would be astonished. They couldn’t conceive of a legitimate, clean reason to do that.” 

Murphy said: “I’m flabbergasted. I don’t know how she says that with a straight face.” 

But Cuccinelli said Michigan’s Benson isn’t the only one, noting that a lawsuit forced the city of Los Angeles to take the names of 1.2 million voters off the rolls. 

Murphy asked, “What intent, other than fraud, could there be for wanting such things?”

Cuccinelli replied that it simply could be to cause confusion. 

“I don’t think there is any other intent. Short of fraud, there is also mere confusion,” the former homeland security official said. “I believe the Left has, and knows it has and tries to exploit, … a litigation advantage because they are just staffed up around the country and have been for 20 years.”

“The Left has a bigger litigation machine by far than the Right,” he said. “So muddiness and confusion works to their advantage.”

Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.

The post 4 Takeaways as House Looks to Restore Confidence in Elections appeared first on The Daily Signal.

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