A new report explores potentially severe consequences that House Democrats’ voting reform bill HR1 could have on states across the country — including ones that already have progressive laws on the books.
The Honest Elections Project, a group that in 2020 warned of flaws in several states’ voting systems, warns that if the bill passes in its current form, it would overwhelm state governments that would be forced to make significant reforms under short deadlines or face legal consequences.
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“It has the potential to create confusion, chaos, fraud, and litigation,” the group said in a new report on HR1’s impacts.
For instance, the report notes that 14 states would have to institute no-excuse absentee voting, and even the states that already have this would have to conform to HR1’s requirements, such as developing a system that would automatically place voters on an absentee list.
Another HR1 requirement is automatic voter registration, which most states do not currently have and would first have to set up. States that already have such systems would have to update them to comply with the bill. The Honest Elections Project warned that rushing this could result in ineligible voters being registered.
The bill also requires same-day voter registration, which 29 states currently do not offer.
The Honest Elections Project’s report cited problems that states have had with individual new systems in 2020. For example, it pointed to how Iowa’s use of a smartphone app during the Democratic caucus led to delays in reporting the results and the first use of same-day registration in Michigan led to long lines as officials struggled with the workload.
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Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman warned a House Administration subcommittee last week that HR1 does not provide officials with enough time to properly put new systems in place and that the bill makes it “problematic for election officials to be able to implement in the timelines prescribed.”
Washington is known for its progressive election laws, as it already has universal mail-in voting, but Wyman said even that state would be hard-pressed to comply with HR1 in the time prescribed.
For example, she said her state does not yet have a facility to test new standards for voting systems, and the timeline set out for the 2022 midterm election is not practical.
“Our state wouldn’t have a certified system because if you don’t meet the standards and have your systems tested, they’re decertified,” Wyman said. “That’s a huge problem nationally.”
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H.R. 1 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 220-210 in March. The Senate version of the bill is making its way through the upper chamber.
Democrats supporting the bill say it improves access to ballots and prevents states from implementing rules that they argue are unfairly restrictive.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the bill would “combat all of these voter suppression efforts by restoring critical parts of the Voting Rights Act… make it easier — not harder — to vote by automatically registering American voters when they get a driver’s license… [and] limit dark money and corruption in our politics, and much more.”
The Honest Elections Project, however, said the Democrats are expecting too much too soon and it could result in turmoil.
“If H.R. 1 is adopted, voters across the nation—and in states across the political spectrum—would see their election systems upended,” the report said. “In their place would come strict mandates from Washington, novel voting systems, impossible deadlines, and the threat of costly lawsuits if and when states fail to implement them.”
Fox News’ Evie Fordham and Tyler Olson contributed to this report.