The Democrats’ “For the People Act,” which would essentially federalize U.S. elections, stripping states of their ability to implement basic election integrity measures such as voter ID, is an “invitation for total chaos,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned during Wednesday’s Senate Rules and Administration Committee hearing.
McConnell first addressed his colleague Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who spoke ahead of the minority leader and used the opportunity to deem state election laws, particularly those pursued by Republican legislatures, as “one of the greatest threats we have to modern democracy in America.”
“The state bills he refers to I believe … had absolutely nothing to do with suppressing the vote. It’s also noteworthy that this is a solution in search of a problem,” McConnell said, noting turnout in 2020 was the highest in over 100 years.
“States are not engaging in trying to suppress voters whatsoever. This is clearly an effort by one party to rewrite the rules of our political system but even more immediately, it would create an implementation nightmare, as Senator Blunt pointed out, that would drown state and local officials who run elections.”
“This proposal needs all the scrutiny it can get, and I’m glad we’re all here to give it that scrutiny,” McConnell said before listing off some of the specific actions the bill would take.
“This legislation would forcibly rewrite the election laws of all 50 states from here in Washington. Popular policies like voter ID requirements would be banned unless states neutered them with loopholes,” he said. Notably, a recent survey showed that a majority of registered voters, including black and Latino voters, overwhelmingly support voter ID.
“Meanwhile, unpopular and absurd practices, like ballot harvesting, where paid political operatives can show up carrying stacks of other people’s ballots, would not just be allowed. It would be mandatory,” he continued, noting it would mandate every state and county to adopt same-day voter registration “with minimal safeguards” and make it “incredibly difficult” for states to clean their voter rolls.
“But it would make it incredibly difficult for states and counties to conduct routine voter list maintenance like removing dead people or voters who don’t live there any longer. Then there’s the whole question of political speech,” he continued, noting it would “expand the scope of this newly partisan FEC” as well:
More power over more of America’s speech. More mandates for private groups to publicize their list of supporters. Associational privacy is a core liberty. It’s been championed heroically by organizations like the NAACP. This bill’s such an attack on citizens’ privacy that even the left-wing ACLU opposes this bill. These are big picture problems. But on a practical level, even you disagree with everything I just said, the fact is, as Senator Blunt pointed out, this legislation is just not ready for primetime. It’s an invitation to chaos. Chaos. State-level elections officials, including Democrats, are sounding the alarm left and right.
The bill, the 79-year-old legislator continued, would mandate new voting machines that have not even been produced yet, effectively mandating “something that doesn’t exist, let alone certified and approved.”
McConnell said it would also force every state to rush through changes, such as automated telephone systems to register voters.
“I’m sure prank callers would have a field day with that,” he said, continuing to lay out what he views as keen absurdities in the legislation.
“This thing even has something to say about the paper in which local officials would be able to print their ballots and the kind of envelope adhesive they have to use. That’s a really important thing for the federal government to dictate,” he said sarcastically, adding, “What kind of adhesive they have to use. What a great idea.”
“Just the prospect of all these silly new mandates is already keeping local officials up at night and that includes, by the way, Democratic local officials who conduct elections,” he added, noting that it would also put taxpayers on the hook for “directly” funding political campaigns.
“Taxpayer-funded bumper stickers and attack ads. What a great idea. The American people are really going to like that, taking their money and spending it on attack laws, bumper stickers, buttons, and balloons,” he added.
“This is nowhere near for primetime,” McConnell said. “It’s an invitation for total chaos.”