H.R. 322 is a Republican bill that counters Democrat bill – H.R. 1, For the People Act — on elections and voting. Even though it was introduced mid-January 2021, the Heritage Foundation recently held a round table to discuss H.R. 322. Gay Dillard, past-President of the Greater Greensboro Republican Women’s Club, listened in and found the discussion lively and very informative. H.R. 322 – Save Democracy Act – was introduced by Representative Banks, for himself and thirty (30) other Republican members of the House, including North Carolina’s own Mr. Budd. As set forth within the text of the bill, its purpose is to --
“…amend the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002 to promote integrity in voter registration, the casting of ballots, and the tabulation of ballots in elections for Federal office, and for other purposes.”
H.R. 322 acknowledges the primary role of the States in regulating Federal elections, as well as the secondary role of Congress in instances –
“where State regulation of Federal elections has contributed to or proven unsuccessful in preventing impropriety.”
In this regard, H.R. 322 specifically provides that:
- A State may not register an individual to vote in elections for Federal office pursuant to an automatic voter registration system.
- A State may not register an individual to vote in elections for Federal office unless, at the time the individual applies to register to vote, the individual provides documentary proof that the individual is a citizen of the United States Proof is any of the following: (a) a certified birth certificate issued by a State or unit of local government in a State, (b) a valid United States passport, (c) a Consular Report of Birth Abroad issued by the Secretary of State, or (d) a Naturalization Certificate or Certificate of Citizenship issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security.
- An application for voter registration for an election for Federal office may not be accepted or processed by a State unless the application includes the applicant’s full social security number.
- Courts must inform State Election Officials of those individuals recused from jury service on grounds of non-citizenship.
- Requiring as a condition for voting, valid and current identification for in-person and absentee voting, to include any one of the following: (a) an identification issued by a State or a unit of local government in a State, (b) a United States passport, (c) a military identification card, or (d) an identification issued by a tribal government.
- A State may not deliver a ballot in an election for Federal office to an individual by mail unless the individual requests that the State deliver the ballot to the individual by mail.
- A State may not use a drop box for the collection of voted absentee ballots in an election for Federal office unless the drop box is located inside a building which serves as an office for a State or local election official.
- A State may not accept a voted absentee ballot in an election for Federal office which is delivered in person to an election official by any individual other than the voter to whom the ballot was transmitted, other than an individual described as follows: (a) An election official while engaged in official duties as authorized by law, (b) an employee of the United States Postal Service while engaged in official duties as authorized by law, or (c) any other individual who is allowed by law to collect and transmit United States mail, while engaged in official duties as authorized by law.
- A State may not accept a voted absentee ballot in an election for Federal office which is not received by the appropriate State or local election official prior to the time at which the polls in the election close on the date of the election.
- Immediately upon the closing of the polls in an election for Federal office, each State shall verify the identification of each individual who cast a ballot in the election by carrying out a cross-check of the individual’s identification with the individual’s identification in the official list of individuals who are registered to vote in the election, using the individual’s full social security number as the method for determining the individual’s identification.
- The appropriate State or local election official shall permit at least 2 representatives of each candidate appearing on the ballot in a general election for Federal office to observe the tabulation of the ballots in the election.
- Except for provisional ballots, upon the closing of the polls on the date of an election for Federal office, the appropriate State or local election official shall continue the tabulation of the ballots cast in the election without interruption (other than an interruption caused by an emergency affecting the health or safety of the election officials carrying out the tabulation) until each lawfully cast ballot has been tabulated.
This is clearly a bill that we can all get behind and push for passage! Alas, unless the Republicans can siphon off a lot of Democrats in the House to push for its passage, it is not going anywhere. A bit of silver lining though is that even though H.R. 1, For the People Act, passed the House, it’s probably not going anywhere either. H.R. 1 won’t get 60 members of the Senate to stop any filibuster Senate Republicans should mount! That is, if 10 Republicans don’t defect…! Only time will tell! Even if H. R.322 isn’t passed, as Ms. Dillard points out, it can serve as a blueprint for States to follow to ensure fair and proper future elections!