Hagerty: Protect voters, elections – this bill will restore trust in our Electoral College process
By Senator Bill Hagerty
March 2, 2021
Americans must have faith that presidential election rules are established through the transparent, democratic process required by the U.S. Constitution to guarantee public accountability and preserve federalism.
That’s why I’ve introduced legislation to strengthen the Electoral College process by ensuring that federal taxpayer dollars do not support presidential elections in states that violate the Constitution by failing to follow state election statutes.
Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution is clear that elected, accountable state legislatures must set presidential election rules in their states, not activist judges, not election officials or commissions, or lawsuit settlements.
Yet, in several key presidential battleground states in the 2020 election, activists changed the election rules—in the middle of the game—despite having no constitutional authority to do so.
Don’t take my word for it. Take a look at the blueprint that Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives laid out last spring under the guise of pandemic relief, ramming a radical, federal rewrite of state election laws through the House.
That legislation sought to nationalize election procedures, toss aside election integrity measures, and eliminate the constitutionally-mandated role of state legislatures in the process.
This Democrat legislation would have forbidden voter identification requirements and signature verification requirements for mail-in ballots, required states to permit ballot harvesting and paying harvesters to pick up and turn in ballots from an unlimited number of individuals, required counting ballots received up to 10 days after Election Day and required automatic mailing of mail-in ballots to all registered voters, who may or may not still be living in the state, during any type of emergency. Democrats introduced similar legislation this year in the House of Representatives as H.R. 1.
When this legislation to upend our election system was appropriately not considered by the U.S. Senate, the effort moved to the states ahead of the 2020 election.
In select states, activists used the pandemic as the excuse to file lawsuits and cajole election officials and – with the help of activist judges and partisan officials—to unconstitutionally rewrite and water down state election integrity laws in the middle of the election. They did so often by ignoring the role of state legislatures, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution.
This led to less secure methods of voting that overwhelmed the system, invited wrongdoing, and prevented adequate oversight of the new processes. It led to Americans justifiably questioning the integrity of our elections, an outcome that is not acceptable.
Let me be clear: My purpose is not to put Congress in charge of state elections. That’s the opposite of what I want. The Constitution rightly commits this authority to the state legislatures. But we must protect the Electoral College, which cannot function properly if the constitutional process for setting election rules is trampled on, as it was in the 2020 election.
Leading up to the 2020 presidential election, Congress appropriated $400 million via the CARES Act and $425 million via regular appropriations for election security grants to assist states in conducting secure elections. My legislation will stop taxpayer dollars from going to states engaging in unconstitutional election procedures not established through the state legislative process because Tennesseans should not be forced to subsidize election shenanigans in other states.
I am also co-sponsoring legislation proposed by Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., to establish a bipartisan committee of nine Republicans and nine Democrats to review the procedural changes leading up to the 2020 presidential election and provide recommendations to state legislatures on best practices for improving the security, integrity and administration of federal elections using their Article II, Section 1 authority.
While some say we should simply move on, if we ignore this as if the 2020 election was normal, we risk disenfranchising the American voter. If we do nothing, then nothing will change, and we increase the odds this will happen again.
And doing nothing opens the door to radical, federal seizures of state election authority like H.R. 1, which would effectively require states to use insecure election practices that are highly susceptible to fraud.
Instead, I will fight for the rule of law and invite others to join me in standing for election integrity. We must safeguard future elections and the sanctity of the Electoral College, so that states like Tennessee always have an important voice in deciding the presidency.
We must ensure that every American’s vote is protected and that every American can be confident in the results of our elections.