WASHINGTON — On Monday, Representative Chip Roy (TX-21), along with Committee Ranking Members Jim Jordan (OH-4), Rodney Davis (IL-13), and James Comer (KY-01) sent a letter to the National Council of State Legislatures urging members to enact safeguards to guarantee that only legitimate votes are cast and counted in future elections.
“Republicans in Congress sought to highlight the problems with these last-minute changes to state election administration,” the letter explains. “Democrats in Congress, unfortunately, refused to join us in addressing these problems. They ignored warnings about last-minute changes to the 2020 general election. … Now, Democrats have passed H.R. 1, a bill that would amount to an unconstitutional federal take-over of election administration and eliminate already existing election integrity measures in state law.”
The letter emphasizes the legal, constitutional, and moral imperative that action is taken to restore voter confidence in our election system while defending the future of our Republic.
The letter adds, “State legislatures are best positioned — and, pursuant to our constitutional framework, fundamentally empowered — to safeguard the integrity of federal elections,” before urging those legislatures consider policies to:
- Increase safeguards for mail-in ballots
- Ban ballot harvesting
- Ensure signature verification for absentee ballots
- Clean up voter rolls
- Ensure timely ballot counting
“For this republic to survive — for representative government to mean anything — all of its citizens must have complete confidence that their vote counts and that their voices matter. Our country simply cannot allow the kind of disaster we have seen these last few months to ever happen again,” Rep. Roy said of the effort. “Our Constitution entrusts the states with the primary responsibility to secure their elections, and that is where conservatives have to take the fight for real reform.”
Full text of the letter is available at the link here and below:
The Honorable Robin Vos
President, National Conference of State Legislatures
Speaker, Wisconsin Assembly
Room 217 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
The Honorable Scott K. Saiki
President-Elect, National Conference of State Legislatures
Speaker, Hawaii House of Representatives
Hawaii State Capitol, Room 431
415 South Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Speaker Vos and Speaker Saiki:
The 2020 general election demonstrated the need for state-based legislative reforms to improve the integrity of our federal elections. In 2020, several states made last-minute changes to election administration—such as expanded mail-in voting and ballot harvesting, relaxed voter verification measures, and extended deadlines for voter registration and ballot receipt—without the necessary planning, hiring, training, or procurement. This led to uncertainty, confusion, and delay in many election results. We respectfully write to urge state legislatures to implement measures to improve state election integrity so that all Americans may have confidence in the integrity of future federal elections.
The Elections Clause in Article I of the U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the authority to prescribe “[t]he Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives” within their jurisdictions. In addition, the Electors Clause in Article II of the U.S. Constitution grants state legislatures the power to determine the manner of appointing presidential electors. These provisions, in addition to fundamental principles of federalism, make clear that state legislatures have preeminent authority to promulgate their own election law and to administer elections for federal office.
Republicans in Congress sought to highlight the problems with these last-minute changes to state election administration. Beginning in July 2020, Republicans on the House Administration Committee wrote to several localities across the country to warn of potential problems in the 2020 general election and deployed staff members to numerous states across all regions of the country to examine and observe the administration of the general election firsthand. Among other issues, Republicans warned of errors with voter registration rolls and lack of preparedness for mail-in ballots and uncovered issues with signature matching and verification, slow ballot processing and counting, questionable practices for ballot drop boxes, and extreme ballot receipt deadlines. On September 23, 2020, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Reform Committee released a report detailing the Democrats’ efforts at sowing uncertainty, inaccuracy, and delay in the 2020 general election.
Democrats in Congress, unfortunately, refused to join us in addressing these problems. They ignored warnings about last-minute changes to the 2020 general election. Earlier this year, Democrats voted down a motion by Representative Rodney Davis, Ranking Member of the House Administration Committee, that would have promoted election integrity and increased voter confidence in federal elections. Now, Democrats have passed H.R. 1, a bill that would amount to an unconstitutional federal take-over of election administration and eliminate already existing election integrity measures in state law.
State legislatures are best positioned—and, pursuant to our constitutional framework, fundamentally empowered—to safeguard the integrity of federal elections. To that end, we encourage state legislatures to consider the following measures to improve election integrity:
• Increased safeguards for mail-in ballots. In the 2020 general election, many states moved to universal mail-in voting, in which election officials mailed unsolicited ballots to all registered voters in the jurisdiction. This occurred despite the refusal of some states to conduct meaningful list maintenance, increasing the likelihood that these live ballots would be received by someone other than the voter. Unlike traditional absentee voting, where a voter solicits and expects to receive a ballot by mail, the registered voter in a universal mail-in voting system is not necessarily expecting to receive the ballot and may not notice if it does not arrive. This break in the chain of custody for a voter’s mailed-in ballot, coupled with some states’ use of unmaintained voter registration lists, introduces greater risk of election crime or administrative error. The 2020 general election saw a drastic increase in mail-in voting, with 65 million people voting by mail due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
• Prohibiting ballot harvesting. Ballot harvesting is a practice in which anyone can pick up a voter’s ballot and deliver it to a polling place. In the 2018 midterm election, paid political operatives in some states exploited the system by pressuring voters to vote by mail and then assisting them in filling out their ballots. Ballot harvesting lacks several fundamental safeguards. There is no way to verify the identity of the person dropping off ballots and their relationship, if any, to the voter. There is also no mechanism to determine the ballots’ chain of custody, increasing the risk of lost, stolen, or destroyed ballots.
• Ensure signature verification. In 2020, election officials in some states altered or eliminated signature verification requirements for mail-in ballots. Signature verification and other similar ballot safeguards help to ensure the ballot has been authentically submitted by a registered voter in the jurisdiction.
• Ensure integrity of voter registration rolls. The National Voter Registration Act requires states to have a voter registration list maintenance program. Despite this requirement, some voter rolls are notoriously inaccurate. According to one study, at the beginning of 2020, voter registration rates exceeded 100 percent of the eligible populations in 378 counties across the United States. Inaccurate or outdated voter registration rolls increase the risk for election crime or administrative error.
• Ensure ballots are counted in a timely manner. In the 2020 general election, some state election officials and state court judges unilaterally extended deadlines for receiving mail-in ballots. These changes, in addition to other requirements for when election official may begin counting ballots, led to considerable delay in tallying election results. Counting ballots in a timely manner improves voter confidence and certainty in election results.
We urge state legislatures to use their constitutional authority to implement these and other commonsense measures to improve the integrity of our federal elections. Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Member of Congress
Committee on the Judiciary
Committee on House Administration
Committee on Oversight and Reform