On Thursday, on a party line vote, Nancy Pelosi’s Democrats in the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1, dubbed the “For the People Act of 2019.” It is a massive federal intrusion into the states’ constitutionally-protected realm of regulating and maintaining voter rolls.
It’s also a recipe for voter fraud. Republicans in the House correctly derided it as a “voter fraud and election theft” bill. But that understates how bad it is. H.R. 1 rolls out the red carpet for election fraud.
This is true in multiple respects. A few of the most outrageous provisions in the bill are the following:
- Preventing states from requiring proof of citizenship. The problem of aliens registering to vote has become one of the greatest threats to the integrity of American elections. In many states, the number of aliens on the voter rolls is in the thousands. Four states — Kansas, Arizona, Alabama, and Georgia — have addressed this problem by enacting laws requiring proof of citizenship to register. As Kansas secretary of state, I drafted our law and then defended it against the ACLU’s attacks in court. (The case is now on appeal in the Tenth Circuit.)
All of that would be in vain if the H.R. 1 were to become law. The bill prohibits states from requiring proof of citizenship by declaring that mere “attestation” of citizenship on a voter registration form is enough. That’s ridiculous. It has also been demonstrated empirically to be false. In defending the Kansas law in court, I presented more than a hundred instances of aliens who had knowingly or unknowingly checked the box claiming to be citizens when registering to vote. Asking registrants to check a box declaring their citizenship is utterly ineffective in ensuring that only U.S. citizens are registered to vote.
And we have already seen elections that have likely been stolen by aliens voting. The infamous J.J. Rizzo v. Will Royster primary election for the Missouri legislature in 2010 is such a case. There, some 50 Somali nationals who were coached to vote for Rizzo tipped the election for him — he won by a margin of exactly one vote.
But even when illegal votes by aliens don’t change the outcome of an election, they do effectively disenfranchise U.S. citizens. Every time an alien votes, it cancels out the vote of a citizen. If H.R. 1 were to become law, this sort of disenfranchisement would become even more widespread.
Voting is the most precious right of citizenship. Yet many on the Left are willing to give it away to non-citizens. The Democrat stronghold of San Francisco now allows aliens to vote in school board elections. During the deliberation on H.R. 1, Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) offered a motion to recommit which would have expressed the sense of Congress that “allowing illegal immigrants the right to vote devalues the franchise and diminishes the voting power of United States citizens.” The motion would have sent the bill back to committee for such language to be added by amendment. All but six House Democrats voted against the motion, killing it.
- Enabling people to easily vote at multiple addresses. H.R. 1 also makes it easy for fraudsters to vote multiple times at multiple polling places. Now, most states use provisional ballots to deal with the fact that voters sometimes change their residence but forget to change their registration address. You get to vote at the polling place near your new residence, but you use a provisional ballot. This allows the election officials to verify in the days after the election that your new address is indeed correct and that you didn’t also vote at your old address. Your vote is then added to the official tally.
But, inexplicably, that’s not good enough for the authors of H.R. 1. The bill would compel election officials across America to allow any voter to walk into any polling place and assert that he now lives at a new address in that district — and then be given a regular ballot, not a provisional one. At that point, the voter’s ballot is cast and then intermingled with the other ballots. If it were later discovered that the person lied and does not live in the district, it would be too late to do anything about it.
Even worse, the fraudster could do it all day long, going into separate polling places and declaring a new address each time. Election officials might eventually discover the crime, but the damage would already be done; and the fraudulent votes could not be removed from the totals.
- Dumping duplicate names and bad data into state election databases. Voter roll databases are difficult enough to keep accurate as it is. Every year millions of Americans change addresses or die. For example, the Pew Center on the States studied this problem in 2012 and found that there were over 1.8 million deceased individuals on voter rolls across the country. The number of people who are registered in multiple states was even higher — approximately 2.75 million. In total, approximately 24 million voter records (or one out of eight) were invalid or significantly inaccurate.
H.R. 1 would make this problem much worse. It forces states to dump data from their various government databases, as well as from federal databases, into the voter rolls in order to “automatically” register voters. The problem is that most of those databases are even less accurate than the voter rolls are. The addition of this garbage data into the states’ voter rolls would create millions more duplicate and inaccurate names on the voter rolls, each of which would present an opportunity for individuals to commit voter fraud.
- Usurping the constitutional role of the states. The United States Constitution gives the states primary responsibility for determining the “time, place, and manner” of elections in Article I, Section 4. Congress is allowed to modify those rules regarding the time, place, and manner of federal elections. However, Article I, Section 2, affirms that the states have sole authority to determine the qualifications for voting in each state, and by extension the qualifications for becoming registered to vote.
The authors of H.R. 1 evidently are not familiar with that part of the Constitution. Nor are those representatives who voted for it. If H.R. 1 ever became law, it would eviscerate Article I, Section 2. It would replace state rules for determining who is a qualified voter with a one-size-fits-all federal system. The bill even gets into the minutia of determining the content of state mailings to voters and the content of state election websites.
These are only a few of the many flaws in H.R. 1. For the sake of brevity, I will end the list here.
Fortunately, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that the Senate will not advance the bill; and President Trump has made clear that he would veto it if it came to his desk. But beware: This invitation for voter fraud will likely be offered again when Democrats next control the Senate.
Kris W. Kobach served as the Secretary of State of Kansas 2011–2019. In that capacity he authored Kansas’s Secure and Fair Elections (SAFE) Act of 2011. An expert in immigration law and policy, he coauthored the Arizona SB-1070 immigration law and represented in federal court the ten ICE agents who sued to stop Obama’s 2012 DACA executive amnesty. During 2001–2003, he served as U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft’s chief adviser on immigration and border security at the U.S. Department of Justice. His website is kriskobach.com.