Secretaries of State Sign Letter Opposing H.R. 1

Mar 6, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Committee on House Administration Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) issued the following statement after the release of a letter from 16 Secretaries of State, who administer elections, in opposition to H.R. 1, the Democratic majority’s proposed election and campaign finance reform. 

“As the chief election officials of our respective states who are responsible for administering the election process, from the registration of voters to their casting of ballots to the counting and tallying of votes, we are writing to express our deep concern over, and opposition to, HR 1,” the letter, signed by 16 of Secretaries of State, reads.

They express strong concerns that H.R. 1 would unconstitutionally interfere with the authority of states, as well as micromanaging the state election systems.  “HR 1 creates federal mandates for problems that currently do not exist. No provision of federal law requires states to offer registration on the day of election, to preregister children to vote, to require weeks of early voting, mandatory online registration, or to offer automatic voter registration simply because the person is on a government list.” The letter goes on to read, “The bill also imposes many problematic administrative burdens.”

They conclude the letter by saying, “HR 1 constitutes an unwise and unconstitutional intrusion into our authority to administer the election process. It is unneeded and will impose substantial costs on state and local government.”

Many Secretaries have spoken out individually about H.R. 1 and the burdens it would place on state and local election officials by creating federal mandates.

"Although there are some good components in HR 1, as a whole, this bill is a massive federal overreach that strips powers from the states and gives them to Congress,” said Paul Pate, Iowa’s Secretary of State. “The states have developed positive working relationships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect the integrity of our elections. Those relationships should be allowed to continue to blossom, unimpeded by Congress. The federal government can help by providing funding and resources but they should not try to dictate this one-size-fits-all approach.”

Secretary Schwab from Kansas said, “Our office, like many of our colleagues, took the oath of office a few short months ago.  Time is needed to review current election standards and practices. Implementing new and significant federal election requirements as proposed in HR 1, with a major national election pending, would increase voter confusion and compromise election security.”

"At best, HR1 is nothing more than a federal power grab and an attempt to rewrite the rules regarding the electoral process to benefit one party. This proposed legislation is far over-reaching and infringes on states' rights by transferring control of elections from state and local election officials to bureaucrats in Washington and taking election policy decisions out of the hands of our state leaders. It restricts a state's ability to keep voter rolls clean by limiting sources of information, said Secretary Tre Hargett from Tennessee. “Also buried deep within the 600-plus pages of this bill, is a veiled attempt to have taxpayers fund political campaigns for members of Congress by creating taxpayer-funded campaign vouchers and six-to-one taxpayer-funded matches of individual campaign contributions. HR1 is just bad policy and I am urging our delegation to vote against it."

"H.R. 1 is another example of Federal government overreach and serves only the agenda of Speaker Pelosi and the Democratic Party. I stand in total opposition to H.R. 1 and urge Congress to table this bad legislation,” said Kyle Ardoin, Louisiana’s Secretary of State.

“As the chief election officer of a state which has implemented most of the policies proposed in HR1, I am opposed to the federal overreach of this bill.  HR 1 would enact prescriptive and specific federal regulations on election administration by mandating and essentially freezing these 2019 ideas in place for decades. It will dramatically increase the cost of conducting elections, and simply repeat history,” said Secretary Kim Wyman from the State of Washington.

Alabama’s Secretary of State, John Merrill said, “United States Senators and Members of Congress that are unwilling or unable to consider the fact that each state has unique laws and circumstances with different levels of resources must understand that the passage of H.R. 1 creates an ineffective system that will create additional hardships for the entities responsible for administering and conducting elections in their state, and potentially cause unnecessary damage to the credibility and security of our electoral process. State leaders must be given the opportunity to build their system around their state’s laws and citizens regarding elections as is indicated in the United States Constitution.”

“Election administrators were not consulted in the drafting and development of H.R. 1, and it’s clear why they have legitimate concerns with this legislation,” said Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL). “H.R. 1 takes power away from the people who know best how to administer elections and implements a federally mandated ‘one size fits all’ approach to election reform that will cause disruption on the local level.”

 

You can read the full letter from the Secretaries of State HERE.  

For other organizations in opposition and more information on H.R. 1, visit our website HERE.

 

Subcommittees: 
116th Congress