By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — House Democrats this week are ramming through a bill that would take away Wisconsin’s control over its elections.
Under H.R. 1, states would be prevented from enforcing voter ID laws. While Wisconsin’s key voter integrity protection wouldn’t be banned, the state could no longer demand voters show identification to obtain a mail-in ballot.
“It’s a terrible bill and it’s going to weaken our election system,” said U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil. The Janesville Republican is a member of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over H.R.1.
The bill would nationalize elections, spend taxpayer money on congressional campaigns, even bring statehood to Washington, D.C.
The Democrat-controlled House is set to debate the bill today, with a vote expected on Wednesday.
Billed as the “For the People Act of 2021,” the legislation will formalize the kind of vote-by-mail policies liberals successfully have pushed throughout the pandemic. In short, critics say, the bill will destroy whatever waning faith many Americans have left in an election system they believe is flawed, if not outright rigged.
“H.R. 1 would federalize and micromanage the election process administered by the states, imposing unnecessary, unwise, and unconstitutional mandates on the states and reversing the decentralization of the American election process — which is essential to the protection of our liberty and freedom,” the Heritage Foundation asserts in its Facts About H.R. 1.
The bill’s authors and sponsors insist it would “expand Americans’ access to the ballot box, reduce the influence of big money in politics, strengthen ethics rules for public servants, and implement other anti-corruption measures for the purpose of fortifying our democracy, and for other purposes.”
That might sound good, until you get into the details.
Steil said the bill’s push to centralize elections would take away Wisconsin’s control over its elections — and safeguards for making sure every legal vote counts.
“Imagine if that were the rule on anyone buying beer,” Steil said. “‘Although I’m not old enough to shave, I’m 21, and I don’t need to show you an ID to buy beer.’ It would gut Wisconsin’s voter ID law.”
The bill also creates automatic voter registration nationwide, and expands early voting and extends absentee voting.
“It takes the pandemic election changes and makes them permanent,” Steil said.
The “For the People Act” includes the usual left-wing language on going after “dark money” in politics, despite the fact that Democrats have failed to live by their own rhetoric. It also forces taxpayers to fund campaign contributions for House candidates through a “Matching contribution” scheme. Critics say it’s a scam, and taxpayers shouldn’t have to be on the hook for it.
Gov. Tony Evers’ and his People’s Maps Commission allies are believers in the “For the People Act,” which would take away the ability of state legislatures to redistrict their own congressional district sfollowing a census. The House bill requires a “Citizen’s Commission” of unelected, unaccountable members to make that call.
As one columnist noted, the measure includes new definitions of “electioneering communications,” apparently designed to target online political advertising, chat groups and special interest groups that form online to support a candidate, policy or ballot initiative.
“There will be new emphasis on ‘screening and cleaning’ online discussions deemed political. All advocacy groups will be required to list their financial supporters on the ‘face’ of their ads,” writes Pat Orr for the Daily Press.
H.R. 1 would effectively legalize ballot harvesting, the kind of de facto efforts Wisconsin saw at events like Madison’s Democracy in the Parks voter initiatives.
Democrats also shove a host of pet political projects into the bill, including their long-held goal of delivering statehood to Washington, D.C. Republicans say it’s a political ploy to create two Senate seats that would make it easier for Democrats to hold control of the Upper House.
At the same time H.R. 1 moves through the House of Representatives, the Republican-led state Legislature has released several bills aimed at restoring confidence in Wisconsin’s elections.
Steil said House Democrats have rubber-stamped the process, drastically limiting witnesses at a recent hearing on the bill. It will be a tougher sell in the Senate, where Dems hold the slightest majority via Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.
The Heritage Foundation says H.R. 1 would “implement nationwide the worst changes in election rules that occurred during the 2020 election.
“(It would) interfere with the ability of states and their citizens to determine the qualifications and eligibility of voters, secure the fairness and integrity of elections, and participate and speak freely in the political process,” Heritage warns.