Former Vice President Mike Pence offered harsh criticism for a Democrat-proposed voting reform legislation while condemning the Capitol protest on Jan. 6 that, he said, interrupted what would have been a worthwhile discussion of election integrity.
In an op-ed for the Daily Signal published Wednesday, Pence said that H.R. 1, known as the For the People Act, is “unconstitutional, reckless, and anti-democratic” because it would take power over elections away from the states.
“While legislators in many states have begun work on election reform to restore public confidence in state elections, unfortunately, congressional Democrats have chosen to sweep those valid concerns and reforms aside and to push forward a brazen attempt to nationalize elections in blatant disregard of the U.S. Constitution,” Pence wrote.
Pence supported the need for states to be able to set their own election laws, claiming that “voting irregularities” in November’s presidential election occurred in large part in states where existing laws had been “set aside … in favor of sweeping changes ordered by governors, secretaries of state, and courts.”
Pence claimed that H.R. 1, which Congress is scheduled to vote on later this week, “would increase opportunities for election fraud, trample the First Amendment, further erode confidence in our elections, and forever dilute the votes of legally qualified eligible voters.” Meanwhile, he said lawmakers should be focused on improving election security and public confidence in the voting process.
The former vice president said that the existing concern about election security shared by many Americans was why he wanted to ensure that objections to electoral votes at the Jan. 6 joint session of Congress over which he presided “would be given a full hearing.”
Pence noted that rioting at the Capitol interrupted that process.
“The tragic events of Jan. 6—the most significant being the loss of life and violence at our nation’s Capitol—also deprived the American people of a substantive discussion in Congress about election integrity in America,” Pence wrote.
Pence cautioned that H.R. 1 would only exacerbate the public’s lack of confidence because it “mandates the most questionable and abuse-prone election rules nationwide, while banning commonsense measures to detect, deter, and prosecute election fraud.”
Those measures include universal mail-in voting, same-day voter registration, ballot harvesting, and automatic registration for people in government databases such as motor vehicle departments – which Pence said would lead to illegal immigrants being registered to vote.
The bill’s sponsor, Rep. John Sarbanes, D-Md., slammed Pence in response to the criticism, calling him “Exhibit A of the corrupt status quo in Washington” that the bill looks to end.
“Most Americans – including a majority of Republican voters – support the core elements of this historic and transformational reform effort,” Sarbanes said.
The bill does provide for certain security measures, including providing for a “voter-verified paper ballot” that voters would be able to inspect before their vote is officially cast and counted.
H.R. 1 could also expand who would get to vote, as it calls for a congressional task force to examine allowing residents of U.S. territories to vote, and discusses statehood for Washington, D.C. It also opposes restrictions such as requiring voter identification or placing conditions on convicted felons before they can regain the right to vote.