House Republicans reveal election legislation likely to be a priority in a GOP majority

House Republicans unveiled election legislation likely to serve as the leading response to concerns about the 2020 elections in a GOP majority, taking aim at “Zuckerbucks” and “ballot harvesting” while promoting preferred election administration in states.

Titled the American Confidence in Elections Act, the bill announced by House Administration Committee ranking member Rodney Davis (R-Ill.) is largely crafted around the principle that states have the primary role in elections.

That draws contrast to Democrats’ main election reform bill, H.R. 1, or the For the People Act, that has a long list of sweeping voter reforms and requirements.

The GOP bill establishes a standards board to serve as a best-practices forum, including on mail ballots, signature verification procedures, timely ballot counting and post-election audits.

“We don’t want to be H.R. 1 2.0. We want something that’s going to work,” Davis said at a roundtable Wednesday. “We’ve been able to craft a bill that’s reflective of ideas from a very large and diverse set of stakeholders and that has a clear path to passing in the House of Representatives next Congress when Republicans take over the majority.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) will be an original co-sponsor of the legislation, Davis said.

The bill imposes a number of requirements to ensure only eligible American citizens vote, including penalizing states’ ability to receive federal funds for election systems if they allow noncitizen voting in state or local elections. A federal judge last month struck down a New York City law that would have allowed noncitizen residents to vote in city elections, though Republicans have repeatedly pointed to noncitizen voting risks.

A section first introduced by Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-N.Y.), co-chair of the Election Integrity Caucus, would prohibit 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations from directly funding election boards.

The provision is a response to GOP uproar about “Zuckerbucks,” a reference to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg pouring millions into a nonprofit that sent money to election boards in 2020. Republicans allege that the money was used for voter communication efforts without ordinary oversight, benefited “overwhelmingly Democratic precincts” and funded activities that Republicans oppose like ballot drop boxes.

Taking aim at so-called ballot harvesting, the practice of allowing individuals to collect and deliver absentee ballots on behalf of other voters, the bill also prohibits states to use funds on election administration for federal offices unless it includes certain restrictions on who can collect ballots. Only postal employees, family members, household members, caregivers and authorized election officials could collect and transmit ballots for others.

Republican Kansas Secretary of State Scott Schwab offered an analogy when talking about the need for voter ID during the roundtable: “If there’s no cops watching the speed on the highway, then there’s people breaking the law.” 

Also at the roundtable was conservative lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who participated in a phone call between former President Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) in which Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes so he could win the state.