On Friday, the House Administration Committee held a markup hearing to consider H.R. 2722, also known as the SAFE Act, “a bill to protect elections for public office by providing financial support and enhanced security for the infrastructure used to carry out such elections, and for other purposes, or a related measure, and for other purposes.”
Like much of the talk surrounding securing our elections, House Democrats continue to stonewall sensible, effective, and bipartisan solutions to ensuring that every vote counts. While Republicans and Democrats agree that our elections are at risk, few Democrats are willing to walk the walk and legislate.
In his opening statement, House Administration Ranking Republican Congressman Rodney Davis pronounced:
“Our election infrastructure is aging and at risk. Congress should work together in a bipartisan way to put a solution on the table to address this problem. Elections security should not be a partisan issue and I am frankly disappointed that our majority chose not to work with [Republicans on this committee] for that bipartisan solution to strengthen our elections security and instead have decided to put forth legislation that stands no chance of being signed into law. It's disappointing to the American people who deserve a bill that allows them to trust in their election systems and have their votes preserved and protected.”
As the hearing progressed, the Democrat strategy grew clear: federally mandated elections, and an unprecedented level of federal oversight. Davis offered a number of amendments to assist states in strengthening their election security rather than fast track a federal takeover of our election systems. The amendments were all defeated on partisan lines.
One of Davis’ amendments introduced would have replaced HR 2722 with a version put forth by Republicans. As Davis noted:
“This is the Bill that was introduced by colleagues and me…this is a bill that preserves the system we have, which is a decentralized election system that allows less opportunity for nefarious actors and foreign entities to do nefarious things…..If this is about foreign interference only, we’re missing the point…”
As the discussion turned to upgrading elections systems, Democrats couldn’t make up their mind. Congressman Davis pointed out that by mandating one form of elections systems, states and localities would endure unnecessary costs, and also, make elections hacking easier due to a “one sized fits all” solution the legislation would introduce.
“What this original piece of legislation does is take away [localities] right to be able to afford to upgrade election equipment, and forces and mandates a certain type of investment that [localities] may have already planned to invest in [in other technologies], and does nothing to address the concerns that we all have as Americans to keep our elections safe and secure."
As the debate went deeper into the Democrat’s desire for the use of paper ballots, Congressman Barry Loudermilk was quick to point out that:
“Paper Ballots are the most susceptible to voter fraud, it will perpetuate ballot harvesting.” while noting that a proposal to “Use the automation of the [Direct Recording Electronic machines]…..that produces a paper report of how that person voted” would reduce fraud, and produce a verifiable record. Loudermilk noted that this legislation, as it stands, would make paper ballots the primary method of voting, rather than having a paper trail.
RNLA will continue to monitor this legislation and provide updates. Hopefully, House Democrats will start playing partisan politician and start working to protect our elections security.