CACHE COUNTY – While their comments might be less hyperbolic, Cache County lawmakers tend to agree with Sen. Mike Lee, R-UT, that a Democratic proposal in Congress seeking to impose federal election standards on Utah is legislation “written in hell.”
“Voting has historically … been the prerogative of the states,” Rep. Casey Snider, R-District 5, argued during a ZOOM wrap-up of the 2021 Utah Legislature on Thursday. “That bill – H.R. 1, which was recently passed by the House Democrats in Congress – takes away our authority to run our own elections.
“Here in Utah,” he added, “we have fair elections and we don’t need Washington, D.C. telling us how to run our elections.”
A day earlier, Lee declared that H.R. 1 takes the constitutional authority of states to manage their own elections and “flips that principle on its head so that all these things can be micromanaged from Washington.”
“That’s wrong … it’s bad policy … and it’s wildly unconstitutional,” Lee charged.
“We need to be concerned about this radical proposal to extend the vote to 30 days prior, 15 days after and being able to register on Election Day,” agreed Rep. Mike Petersen, R-District 3, citing some of the provisions of H.R. 1. “Those are ideas that worry me and should concern all of us.”
During a town hall broadcast Wednesday where Utah’s senior senator shared the spotlight with freshman Representatives Burgess Owens, R-District 4, and Blake Moore, R-District 1, Lee said that enactment of H.R. 1 would practically guarantee the end of fair elections in the United States.
H.R. 1 – a controversial voting rights and election reform proposal which Democrats have dubbed the “For the People Act of 2021” – was rammed through the House of Representatives on Mar. 3 without a single Republican vote.
If passed by the Senate and signed by President Joe Biden, H.R. 1 would implement nationwide automatic voter registration, restore the franchise for convicted felons and expand mail-in, early and absentee voting opportunities.
Local advocates defend that proposal by emphasizing that some of those provisions are already enshrined in Utah election law.
But Lee said that the fact that Utah fairly manages its election processes doesn’t mean that other states will do the same.
For example, he argued, Utah systematically purges its voter rolls to remove deceased individuals and those that have moved or registered to vote elsewhere. Utah also requires voter verification even on mail-in ballots.
But H.R. 1 would specifically prohibit states from purging their voter rolls or requiring voter identification.
The Democratic proposal would also require states to establish independent redistricting commissions to redraw congressional districts every decade (a concept that Utah has already embraced) and would establish a new public financing system for congressional and presidential elections that would obligate taxpayers to match small-dollar donations to candidates on a 6–to-1 ratio.
H.R. 1 passed in U.S. House, where Democrats hold a narrow majority, by a vote of 220 to 210.
But Snider said the measure will hopefully die in the Senate, where Republicans and Democrats each hold 50 seats and a 60-vote majority will be required for passage of the controversial bill.
Snider, Petersen, Sen. Scott Sandall, R-District 17 and Rep. Dan Johnson, R-District 4 also voiced support for the idea of empowering Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes to legally challenge executive orders by Biden or congressional mandates that are clearly examples of federal over-reach.