U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the upcoming vote on the Democrats’ partisan bill that attempts to federalize elections and re-write election laws in all 50 states. Thune believes that protecting the right to vote and preserving the integrity of our election systems are essential, but this legislation is nothing more than an attempted power-grab from the left to publicly finance political campaigns and overturn popular election measures like voter I.D. requirements.
Excerpts of Sen. Thune’s speech below:
On the Democrats’ election takeover bill:
“Mr. President, later today the Senate will vote on S. 2093.
“S. 2093 is the new S. 1 – the latest version of the so-called For the People Act, a massive federal takeover of election law.
“So why are we taking up a massive federal takeover of election law?
“Well, that’s a good question.
“Two years ago Democrats told us that we needed to pass this law because our electoral system was broken.
“Then came 2020.
“We had record voter turnout.
“And Democrats won the White House.
“After that, it got a little awkward to complain that our electoral system was broken.
“So Democrats found a new argument.
“Now we have to pass this legislation to stop states from taking away voting rights.
“According to Democrats, states’ moves to update or clarify their election laws in the wake of pandemic challenges and vote-counting confusion are really plots to restrict voter access.
“Of course, so far most 2021 state election-law updates have proved to be both standard and mainstream.
“But that hasn’t stopped Democrats, who have at times resorted to outright lies in their efforts to persuade Americans that we’re facing a voting rights crisis.
“After all, Democrats need to give some reason for why we should allow the federal government to take over our entire electoral system.
“And Democrats’ real reason – because they think S. 1 will give them an advantage in future elections – is not really one they can use to sell the bill.
“Although Speaker Pelosi did admit on national television that she thought S. 1 would boost Democrats’ electoral chances.
“Mr. President, where to start when it comes to the bill’s content?
“As I said, like the original S. 1, the new S. 1 is an unprecedented federal takeover of elections.
“Historically, running elections has largely been a matter for states, who tailor election laws to the particular needs of their cities and communities.
“S. 1 would impose one-size-fits-all federal regulations on elections – in many cases, deeply problematic regulations.
“S. 1 would require states to allow unlimited ballot harvesting – the controversial practice of allowing political operatives and others to pick up and deliver ballots, with all the possibilities for fraud that creates.
“It would gut state voter ID laws – laws which, I would point out, are supported by a strong majority of the American people.
“It would remove legal penalties for registering individuals who are here illegally.
“But the new S. 1, like the old S. 1, goes way beyond undermining the security of our elections and increasing the likelihood of voter fraud.
“It would implement public funding of political campaigns, which would mean that government dollars – money that belongs to the taxpayer – would go to funding yard signs and attack ads.
“Sitting senators alone could qualify for more than $1.8 billion in public funding – and that doesn’t count their challengers.
“Yes, with record-high debt, Democrats apparently think that dropping a billion here and there on attack ads and partisan rallies is a good use of taxpayer dollars.
“And the ideas only get worse.
“S. 1 would permanently undermine confidence in our electoral system by turning the Federal Election Commission – the primary enforcer of election law in this country – into a partisan body.
“Democrats’ bill would turn the primary enforcer of election law in this country into a partisan body.
“I’m interested to hear how this is supposed to enhance voter confidence in our electoral system.
“Every single FEC ruling would be suspect.
“And on top of all this, Mr. President, S. 1 makes a concerted attack on freedom of speech.
“It would impose onerous new requirements and restrictions on political speech.
“It would open up private Americans to retaliation and intimidation simply for making a donation to support a cause they believe in.
“And it would allow the IRS to consider organizations’ beliefs when deciding whether or not to grant them tax-exempt status.
“The ACLU actually opposed the House’s version of S. 1 in the last Congress because the bill would, and I quote, “unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights.”
“The American Civil Liberties Union opposed the legislation because the bill would “unconstitutionally burden speech and associational rights.”
“Mr. President, as hard as it is to believe when you look at the bill’s provisions, S. 1 was billed as an election integrity bill.
“In fact, this legislation would undermine election integrity, making our elections less secure and more susceptible to fraud.
“And it would undermine voter confidence in our elections.
“The partisan divide in this country has reached new heights.
“And voters on both sides have lost confidence in our electoral process.
“Any election legislation we take up should be focused on building voter confidence in the fairness of our electoral system – not undermining it.
“Do my Democrat colleagues seriously believe that S. 1 would do anything to increase voter confidence in the unbiased character of our electoral system?
“Do they seriously believe that their bill looks like a nonpartisan attempt to protect American elections?
“They can’t possibly.
“From the newly partisan FEC to an IRS empowered to reject tax-exempt status for organizations whose beliefs it doesn’t like, S. 1 is very clearly a bill designed to enhance political power – the political power, Democrats hope, of the Democratic Party.
“It is the very opposite of a nonpartisan reform bill.
“I have to ask my Democrat colleagues, do you really want an electoral system that’s perceived as partisan and which half the country doesn’t trust?
“Haven’t we seen the consequences of that?
“Are you really prepared to sacrifice voter confidence in our electoral system just so you can win elections?
“Mr. President, later this afternoon, we will vote on S. 1.
“And I fully expect that this legislation will be blocked.
“As it should be.
“The Senate’s rules – which require the agreement of 60 senators to move forward to consider legislation – were designed for times like these.
“Times when a narrow partisan majority attempts to shove through partisan legislation.
“Times when a partisan majority attacks the freedoms our government exists to protect.
“The Senate was established to act as a moderating body and check attempts to ride roughshod over minority rights or curtail our rights and liberties.
“And today the Senate will fulfill that role and prevent this dangerous, partisan takeover of our electoral system from moving forward.”
On the importance of preserving the legislative filibuster:
“The very reason our Founding Fathers created the Senate was a check and balance on the majoritarian rule – against running roughshod over the rights of the majority here in the United States Senate.
“And the legislative filibuster has provided that protection.
“So much so, that it was used extensively over the last six years – when Republicans had control of the Senate – by the Democrats to filibuster legislation.
“In fact, it was used to filibuster coronavirus relief funds, filibuster police reform bills, and over and over to block the president’s nominees.
“And yet now, Mr. President, we are being told that the Senate needs to get rid of the legislative filibuster.
“And that all those Democrats – all those on the other side of the aisle
– who used it extensively to block Republican legislation over the last six years are now to be believed that we need to get rid of the legislative filibuster.
“And that this bill is an example for why that is necessary.
“It’s really ironic and interesting to hear members on the other side make that argument given where they were a couple of years ago.
“It was just a couple of years ago that 33 Democratic senators signed a letter to the Republican leader at the time – Senator McConnell – saying that we need to preserve the legislative filibuster in the Senate because it is so crucial to the Senate and the protections it provides to the minority in the United States Senate.
“Thirty-three Senate Democrats.
“Many of whom who are still serving in the Senate adopted that position …”