Many of the bill’s requirements would replicate Georgia’s laws, which already ban outside election funding, require voter ID and prohibit noncitizen voting. The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed the voting law in response to conservatives’ complaints about Donald Trump’s narrow loss in the 2020 election.
“What we didn’t see was the narrative of the left materialize. What we saw was people had confidence in the election here in Georgia,” U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Administration Committee, said in reference to the 2022 midterms, when the GOP won nearly every statewide race. “We saw people have a positive experience in voting here.”
Like the Democrats’ failed attempts to pass federal voting bills since the 2020 presidential election, the Republican proposal faces a difficult path in Congress. Republicans hold a majority in the U.S. House, but Democrats control the U.S. Senate, where the bill would be unlikely to advance.
Democrats criticized the bill, saying it focuses on preventing the slim possibility of voter fraud without expanding opportunities for voter registration and access.
“This legislation is designed to appease extremist election deniers who have spent the last four years attacking our democracy,” said U.S. Rep. Joe Morelle, a Democrat from New York. “It would restrict the fundamental right to vote, especially for voters of color, jeopardize the security of our elections, burden local election administrators and bring more dark money into our electoral process — opening the door to corruption. It’s anti-American.”
The bill’s rollout in Georgia, a swing state that Democrat Joe Biden won by fewer than 12,000 votes in 2020, creates a contrast between the two political parties ahead of another presidential election year.
The legislation is the Republican response to Democratic proposals for federal election standards, which Republicans blocked by a filibuster in 2021.
The Democrats’ bills would have made Election Day a holiday, limited voter purges, allowed people to register to vote and cast a ballot on the same day, and strengthened federal oversight of changes to state voting laws.
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk, a Republican from Georgia, said states should replicate the provisions of the Peach State’s 2021 voting law, which he said improved voters’ belief that elections are fair and accurate.
U.S. Rep. Stephanie Bice, a Republican from Oklahoma, said: “We need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to be able to run these elections securely safely and effectively. By instilling confidence in elections, we bring back this process and we allow people to know that the process works effectively.”
Two years after allegations of fraud in the presidential election that were never proved, many Georgia voters say they’ve regained trust in elections.
A poll by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in January showed that voter confidence in elections has improved among both conservatives and liberals since the 2020 election, but a majority of those surveyed said Georgia’s voting law didn’t have a significant impact. The turnout rate in last year’s general election decreased from the previous midterms four years ago, from 54% to 52% of the voting-eligible population.
Lawmakers on the House Administration Committee visited Georgia for a public hearing at Georgia State University before the bill is expected to be filed in Washington on Tuesday. A similar version of the bill was introduced in the House last year but didn’t advance.
U.S. House Republicans propose election bill
The bill, which U.S. House Republicans introduced Monday at a press conference in Marietta, would:
- Withhold 30% of Help America Vote Act election funding grants from states that allow noncitizens to vote in local elections.
- Restrict private funding for local election administration.
- Require the U.S. Postal Service to prioritize election mail.
- Create a council to establish best practices for mail ballots, voter list maintenance, election observer access, timely reporting of results and post-election audits.
- Repeal limits on fundraising coordination between political candidates and political parties.
- Regulate elections in Washington, D.C., with requirements for photo ID, a prohibition on voter registration on Election Day, a ban on unsolicited ballot mailings and a mandate for audits after each election.