Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) today voted to defend voter identification laws across the country and uphold states’ election security laws as House Democrats rammed through legislation—HR 5746—to federalize elections and force states to implement measures that would drastically weaken the integrity of the vote.
“The so-called ‘Freedom to Vote Act’ jammed through the House by Democrats seriously jeopardizes our sacred right to vote,” said Rep. Smith.
“This partisan bill weakens our election security and undermines free and fair elections—the very cornerstone of our democracy,” said Smith.
“Under an egregiously false facade of reform, this legislation consolidates and transfers new sweeping powers to federal bureaucrats to regulate elections and nullifies existing state laws requiring valid identification before registering to vote or casting a ballot,” Smith said.
Among its other most egregious provisions, HR 5746:
- Mandates taxpayer-funded campaigns;
- Grants the right to vote to convicted felons;
- Overrules state bans on ballot harvesting; and
- Requires states to allow same-day voter registration—thus precluding any serious process at the local level to verify the eligibility of the applicant to vote.
“More than two-thirds of states currently rely on these verification laws to protect the vote of law-abiding U.S. citizens,” said Smith. “Prohibiting sensible precautions will make our elections less secure, more vulnerable to fraudulent activity, and undermines participation in our democracy.”
“In order to enter federal buildings or the U.S. Congress, a person has to show a photo ID. If people can’t go to the bank and cash a check—or even put money into a bank account—without an ID, then showing an ID to vote doesn’t seem to be an unusual requirement. We should have that same respect for the integrity of the vote.”
The bill also reinstates and expands Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013.
Section 4 had instituted “preclearance” requirements mandating certain states to get the approval of the US Attorney General before they could implement voting laws. In striking down the provision, the Supreme Court noted that the conditions which originally justified such a measure were no longer present.
HR 5746 not only circumvents the high court’s decision but also dramatically expands the list of provisions subject to “preclearance,” giving an unelected Attorney General the ability to undermine certain laws—including voter identification laws.
Last year, Smith strongly opposed and voted against similar legislation—HR 4—which also bypasses the Supreme Court’s decision and grants the federal government more power to override state election laws. Smith also voted “No” on HR 1, which eliminates many state voter protection laws—including by nullifying voter ID requirements, mandating same-day voter registration and expanding vote by mail.