Since being sworn in as your newest senator, I’ve heard from more people in Wyoming about H.R. 1/S. 1, the For the People Act, than on nearly any other issue. As the Senate Rules and Administration Committee amends the bill today, I wanted to take a few minutes to give you my thoughts about the Democrats’ proposed election reform bill. This is the final step that a committee takes before voting on the bill and sending it to the full Senate for a final vote.
The election process, campaign finance, and government ethics are critical parts of ensuring that all Americans’ voices are heard in the democratic process.
States typically hold primary decision-making responsibilities when it comes to federal elections and redistricting. This is evident in the Elections Clause of Article I, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution, where states are granted the authority over “times, places, and manner” of elections. States also oversee voter registration, protection, fraud prevention, and vote counting. States may also delegate election responsibilities to local governments for implementation of the state’s election laws. The manner in which elections are conducted may vary from state to state, which is how our Constitution uniquely designed it to function.
There are many crucial issues that need to be addressed in our election system, including ensuring the fair administration of the laws that we currently have in place. Removing the primacy of our states over elections and redistricting is not one of them. Yet that is precisely what the For the People Act would do.
It is important that we continue to entrust states with the duty to create and execute their respective election policies, and that the federal government does not undermine state authority. Although Congress has the authority to “make or alter” state election and redistricting laws where necessary under the Elections Clause, undermining state authority is not emblematic whatsoever of what our Founding Fathers envisioned for our country.
Regarding the campaign finance portions of the For the People Act, many of these provisions could be subject to a constitutional challenge based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s case law on the First Amendment. Take for example the idea of public financing for political campaigns. While I do support robust and appropriate government ethics requirements and will consider those provisions of the For the People Act, the idea of public financing for political campaigns is a slippery slope and, at a time when our national debt sits at over $28 trillion, something that concerns me greatly.
I have great faith in Wyoming’s elections and political process. Year after year, the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office conducts a fair, transparent, and efficient election. That being said, I believe we can do better on a national level. That’s why I support efforts like my friend Senator Tim Scott’s to create a bipartisan national election integrity panel to make recommendations to state legislatures to improve the security, integrity and administration of federal elections. Wyoming citizens, and all Americans, deserve a fair and free federal election process in which we can all trust, and I am committed to reaching this goal. The For the People Act does not achieve that goal.