As the nation grappled with the uncertainty of the pandemic, many states rushed to make changes to their election processes in 2020 that led to problems like live ballots being sent to inaccurate mailing lists, limited or no access for observers, ballot harvesting, and untimely reporting of results. These issues have created a crisis among American voters who have lost faith in our elections.
To make matters worse, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Democrats have rammed through partisan proposals, like H.R. 1, the For the People Act, crafted behind closed doors. If implemented, their bill would impose a one-size-fits-all takeover of our elections and line the campaign coffers of politicians with public dollars. At the same time, the Biden administration has falsely claimed that states like Georgia, Florida and Arizona are “suppressing” voters because they implemented new election integrity laws. These actions further undermine voter confidence.
It’s time for Republicans in Congress to meet the moment and start leading on election policy. That’s why I’ve spent the last two years championing the Faith in Elections Project, a three-pronged strategy to restore voter confidence and election integrity through education, engagement, and reform.
As the ranking member on the Committee on House Administration, which has jurisdiction over federal elections, I focused on making sure my fellow members of Congress and their staff had the opportunity to meet with elections officials and learn firsthand how elections are administered. We accomplished this through one-on-one meetings, webinars, monthly newsletters, and an internal elections hub with the latest news and policy developments. We also reached the public directly through the launch of a new podcast series where I host outside experts for conversations to answer some of the big questions.
The next step in the project included traveling to 18 states and territories to meet with secretaries of state, local elections officials, state boards of elections, state legislators, and others in the elections community to get feedback on how we can make America’s elections run even better and restore voters’ trust in the process and outcomes.
Now, after two years of learning from the experts and digesting feedback from stakeholders, I’m excited to announce that we’ve reached the final phase: Reform.
Today I’m introducing the American Confidence in Elections (ACE) Act. This comprehensive legislation addresses issues in our federal elections while upholding our federalist principles. It’s coupled with corresponding model state legislation for each state to consider as we all work to improve election integrity.
Ultimately states are the foundation of the ACE Act, as the Constitution gives them primary authority to establish election law and administer federal elections. My bill provides them with tools to boost election integrity and removes outdated federal policies that get in their way.
For example, the ACE Act makes it easier for states to issue photo voter IDs that confirm citizenship by reforming the existing REAL ID Act. The bill will also reform the voter list maintenance process to clarify states’ authority to ensure all eligible, registered voters are included on the rolls—and no one else. We’ll work to improve the U.S. Postal Service’s handling of election mail and ensure our election workers are recognized for the vital work they do. Further, the ACE Act will establish a federal forum for states to consider ways to improve signature verification, observer access, and delivery of ballots by mail to make sure we all benefit from their innovation.
However, the Constitution gives Congress responsibility over the District of Columbia. The ACE Act will implement best practices outlined in the model state legislation in Washington. A lot of false narratives on the left will quickly be debunked when commonsense measures like requiring a photo ID are implemented in such a liberal area with no negative impacts on turnout or effects in the outcome.
Finally, the last pillar of the bill is focused on protecting free speech. In an environment where Democrats are intent on silencing their political opponents, the ACE Act makes clear that speech from across the political spectrum is protected by the First Amendment. In the same vein, the bill strengthens state party committees and non-profit organizations while curbing the use of “Zuckerbucks” and prohibiting the creation of any “Misinformation Czar.”
Over the last two years, I’ve reviewed nearly every aspect of elections — from military voting administration to ensuring that redistricting is used only as a tool to strengthen democracy. I’m incredibly proud of this legislation and though I am under no illusion that Democrats will act on it this Congress, I am confident my Republican colleagues will when they retake the majority next year because the American People must have full confidence in their elections.
Rodney Davis is ranking member of the Committee on House Administration.