Washington, DC — Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman today penned an op-ed in the Washington Examiner discussing the harm H.R. 1 would do to elections in this country and how restoring public trust in our democracy must be done at the state level. The two election officials also highlighted the work of the RSLC’s Commission on Election Integrity, and how examples for making it easier to vote and harder to cheat can be found in both Democrat-and-Republican-led states.
Democrats’ HR 1 won’t restore election integrity. Here’s what will
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman
April 23, 2021
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, the confidence many people had in our electoral process plummeted. And rather than proposing commonsense solutions to address the public’s genuine concerns, congressional Democrats are now trying to use the complete control they have of Washington to paint a crisis and exploit it.
Attempting to capitalize on the distrust voters have in our current system to enhance their power for years to come, Democrats are trying to transform our democracy radically and overhaul the way we conduct elections in this country.
There is a litany of reasons why their legislation that recently passed the House and is currently making its way through the Senate, misleadingly labeled as the “For the People Act,” is a bad idea.
The worst aspect of the bill, however, is that it will institute a federal takeover of our elections, overriding practices that states have set up to meet their specific needs. Not only is this a direct assault on the Constitution, which specifically delegates the important task of administering elections to the states, but it would also create numerous implementation nightmares for states that will have to change their standard practices to comply with all of these new federal decrees.
While the need for reform across the country is real, to varying degrees, restoring public confidence in our elections cannot be solved by one-size-fits-all mandates from Washington, D.C. As with most government-led solutions, they are more effective and efficient when carried out at the state level — closest to the people. As secretaries of state in Tennessee and Washington, states with drastically different election laws, we know this better than anyone.
That’s why in February, we joined with other Republican secretaries of state and state legislators from across the country to form the Republican State Leadership Committee’s Commission on Election Integrity to provide a better way forward than what the Democrats are proposing. The goal of our commission is to restore the public’s confidence in the integrity of elections. So, we convened the policymakers who are directly tasked with improving our elections and put our heads together to propose commonsense reforms that will make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.
Meeting weekly for the last two months, we then did what no other organization has dared to try and put in the hard work of creating a detailed report that identifies examples of current statutes across the country that are in line with our five key principles. The report, which was released earlier this month, presents a sampling of state policies on election administration that we hope can serve as guidance for state leaders who are currently taking up reform efforts in their respective states.
The bipartisan nature of our report was no accident. We wanted to show that the election reform debate doesn’t have to be political, as prior to 2020, Democratic-led states embraced election integrity measures for years.
We also wanted to make clear that it is complete nonsense that Republicans want to restrict voting access. For example, our report notes that Republicans in some states have found success with vote-by-mail. It’s just a matter of ensuring it is done correctly. As Secretary of State Kim Wyman found out through her experiences in Washington, taking the time to get vote-by-mail right and making sure it is secure is essential for its success, which is why we recommend that states choosing to implement vote-by-mail do so over at least a five- to 10-year period.
Our report also notes, however, that “what works successfully in one state may not find the same success in others.” While Washington has engaged in a number of laudable reforms, Tennessee has become a gold standard for elections for its ability to conduct elections through the overwhelming in-person voting preference of our voters and doesn’t need to match everything Washington has done in order to provide proper accessibility.
We’re at a unique turning point as a country. Most people want to see our elections reformed, but the federal power grab that congressional Democrats are proposing should be a nonstarter. The RSLC’s Commission on Election Integrity provides an alternative, a road map for state-centered reforms that make it easier to vote and harder to cheat. We look forward to continuing to support state policymakers in their efforts to increase voter access and participation without sacrificing security, accountability, and transparency. Their success is essential to the future of our democracy.