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Thune: H.R. 1 Designed to Increase Democrats’ Power, Not Election Integrity

“This legislation is an unacceptable federal takeover of elections that would undermine election integrity and substantially curtail First Amendment rights.”

April 21, 2021

Washington — 

U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed H.R. 1, the Democrats’ federal elections takeover bill that is designed to increase Democrats’ chances of maintaining their tenuous hold on power. Thune expressed that protecting the right to vote and preserving the integrity of our election systems are essential, but that H.R. 1 is simply a power-grab attempt by the left.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery): 

“Mr. President, another day, another manufactured crisis.

“Yesterday I came down to the floor to talk about the supposed crisis of confidence in the Supreme Court that requires us to immediately add four additional Democrat-chosen justices.

“Today I want to talk about another manufactured crisis – the supposed election crisis that requires us to pass H.R. 1, a Democrat piece of legislation designed to increase Democrats’ chances of maintaining their currently tenuous hold on power.

“H.R. 1 is not new legislation, Mr. President.

“Democrats introduced a nearly identical version of this bill in the last Congress as well.

“Back then we were told that we needed this bill to address profound electoral problems in our democracy (in other words, Democrats didn’t like the results of the 2016 elections).

“Then, of course, last year we had an election with record voter turnout – an election that gave Democrats the presidency and paper-thin majorities in Congress – and the story changed.

“Now we’re being told that we need to pass H.R. 1 and federalize elections because legislatures around the country are passing “voter suppression” laws. 

“The state of Georgia recently passed an election reform measure – a law that keeps Georgia squarely in the mainstream when it comes to state election laws.   

“The speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives noted yesterday in testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee that while Georgia has made its no-excuse absentee voting more secure with this law, states like Delaware and New York – among many others – don’t even allow no-excuse absentee voting. 

“Delaware, of course, is the home state of the president of the United States, and New York is the home state of the Democrat leader.  

“I haven’t noticed the president or the Democrat leader criticizing their home states for voter suppression.  

“Nevertheless, Democrats decided that the Georgia measure would serve as a useful rallying cry for H.R. 1.

“So they have spread a web of misinformation and outright lies, attempting to get people worked up by portraying Georgia’s fairly ordinary election law reforms as a radical attempt to suppress votes.

“President Biden irresponsibly described the law as ‘Jim Crow on steroids’ – as if the Georgia legislature had decided to reinstate the evil of segregation.

“The president has been repeatedly rebuked by the Washington Post for repeating a completely false claim about the Georgia law.

“The Post gave the president four Pinocchios – a rating the Post reserves for, quote, ‘whoppers’ – for his false claim that the law is designed to keep working Americans from voting.

“In fact, as the Post’s Fact Checker piece makes clear, there’s reason to think that the law might actually – wait for it – expand access to early voting.

“A fair-minded piece in the New York Times – hardly a newspaper that carries water for Republicans – concluded that the voting provisions of the Georgia law are, quote, “unlikely to significantly affect turnout or Democratic chances.” 

“But that hasn’t stopped Democrats from using Georgia’s law as the poster child for supposed voter suppression – and a pressing reason to pass H.R. 1.

“So let’s talk about the substance of H.R. 1.

“To start with, this legislation would transfer control over elections from states to the federal government – despite the fact that the Constitution gives primary control over elections to the states.

“Under this law, states’ ability to develop election systems that address the needs and challenges facing their states would be substantially limited.

“Of course, Democrats would like us to believe that this federal power grab is urgently needed since, they argue, states are contemplating voter suppression laws.

“But the last election, with its record turnout, did not exactly suggest that states are incapable of setting their own election rules.

“Mr. President, ironically, H.R. 1 – which purports to be an election integrity bill – would actually undermine election integrity.

“The bill takes aim at state voter ID laws – a longtime obsession of Democrats.

“I’ve always been at a loss to understand Democrats’ passionate opposition to requiring people to provide identification before voting.

“Democrats, of course, present voter ID laws as an attempt to suppress votes by forcing people to go through a challenging process of obtaining a government ID.

“I have to ask if Democrats also think laws requiring an ID to drive are somehow discriminatory.

“We constantly require photo identification in our society.

“To drive.  To board planes.  To enter many government buildings!

“These requirements are pretty universally accepted.

“It’s difficult to understand how requiring identification to vote as well is so outrageous.

“The American people don’t seem to think so.

“Polls show that a majority of Americans support voter ID laws.

“In addition to effectively eliminating states’ voter ID requirements, H.R. 1 would also require that states allow ballot harvesting – the controversial practice of allowing political operatives to collect and submit ballots.

“Needless to say, ballot harvesting opens up a lot of questions about voter fraud and election integrity.

“But the Democrats’ bill would require it.

“Mr. President, as I mentioned, Democrats introduced an almost identical version of H.R. 1 in the last Congress.

“And the ACLU opposed it.

“That’s right.

“The American Civil Liberties Union opposed it.


“Because the bill would, and I quote, ‘unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights.’

“Unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights.”

“H.R. 1 would impose a vast new array of restrictions on political speech and issue advocacy.

“And it would impose disclosure requirements for organizations that would open up donors to retaliation and intimidation. 

“Mr. President, I could fill up several speeches with a discussion of all the bad provisions in this bill.

“H.R. 1 would turn the FEC – the Federal Election Commission – into a partisan body.

“It would require taxpayer funding of political campaigns.

“Taxpayer dollars would go to fund bumper stickers and political ads.

“It would allow the IRS to deny tax-exempt status to organizations whose positions it doesn’t like.

“And on and on.

“Then there’s the fact that on a purely practical level, this bill would be a disaster.

“A recent Daily Beast article highlighted the onerous and impossible-to-meet requirements the bill imposes on conducting elections. 

“To quote the Daily Beast – another media outlet not exactly known for its favoritism toward conservative Republicans – the bill was ‘written with apparently no consultation with election administrators, and it shows. … it comes packed with deadlines and requirements election administrators cannot possibly meet without throwing their systems into chaos.’

“The article goes on, and I quote, ‘The sections of the bill related to voting systems … show remarkably little understanding of the problems the authors apply alarmingly prescriptive solutions to.  Many of the changes the bill demands of election administrators are literally impossible to implement.’

“Mr. President, like Democrats’ Supreme Court power grab, H.R. 1 is a solution in search of a problem.

“Protecting the right to vote and preserving the integrity of our election systems are essential.

“And while we are fortunate that our electoral system by and large seems to be operating well, there are certainly measures we could take up to further enhance election integrity.

“But H.R. 1 is not one of those measures.

“This legislation is an unacceptable federal takeover of elections that would undermine election integrity and substantially curtail First Amendment rights. 

“And every member of Congress should be opposing it.

“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”