There’s been a lot of gnashing of teeth over House Resolution 1, also known as the “For The People Act,” which passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is poised to be debated in the Senate.
What’s all the fuss? Well, it is a big bill, that would do a lot, including mandating mail-in or “no excuse absentee” voting in every state (something some states already have, and West Virginia employed during the 2020 primary and general election because of the COVID-19 pandemic); enabling same-day voter registration in every state; and mandating automatic voter registration in every state.
It also would make it harder to purge voter rolls and require independent committees to oversee redistricting across the country.
That’s a lot of heavy lifting, and surely a lot of added federal bureaucracy, so it’s understandable why some might blanche at the sheer audacity of the bill, at first glance.
But it’s also worth considering why the bill exists.
Across the country, gerrymandered districts have become an out-of-control problem. West Virginia is due for redistricting in 2022. Are West Virginians supposed to trust the politicians to handle that fairly?
Voter ID laws exist across the country under the guise of cutting near non-existent fraud but actually serve to disenfranchise poor and minority voters. The legislature in Georgia is in the process of adopting regulations to make it as difficult as possible for Black and other minority voters in urban areas to cast their ballots, all because those voters chose Joe Biden for president and two Democrats to represent the state in the U.S. Senate.
West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner testified against the For the People Act before a U.S. Senate committee this week. That’s the same Mac Warner who has failed to enact automatic registration in West Virginia over the past four years and attended a “Stop the Steal” rally in Charleston, perpetuating the lie that former president Donald Trump actually won or was somehow cheated out of victory in the 2020 election.
There’s an argument that states should run their own elections. Some of the same people making that argument went out of their way seeking to tell other states how to run their elections after Trump lost. Recall that West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined a Texas lawsuit aimed at halting ballot counting in Pennsylvania. Warner said he approved of the lawsuit.
Don’t forget where the nurturing of such dishonesty led Jan. 6 at the U.S. Capitol.
States should run their own elections. They know what works for their populace better than the federal government. But just because states know better doesn’t mean they do better or stay in their lanes. Democrats in Congress feel like they need to step in, because the system isn’t fair, and Republicans across the country are trying to make it even less so because they couldn’t keep the House, Senate or presidency with all of the mousetraps they already have.
That’s not to say the For the People Act is the solution to this mess. But when some throw up their hands and shriek about overreach or enabling fraud, think about where they are coming from, especially if they support silencing the voices of voters who don’t want the same things they do. More importantly, think about why they are against making it easier for people to vote.