FEDERAL – SENATE REPUBLICANS HOLD TOGETHER TO DEFEAT SENATE BILL 1 – FOR THE PEOPLE ACT – FEDERAL ELECTION TAKE OVER IS THWARTED – FOR NOW!

For months Manchin said he opposed the bill.  Then as a result of some Schumer arm twisting, perhaps, he changed his mind!  He’s a Democrat, so who are you going to believe? 

On June 22, 2021, in a not-so-surprising move, Senator Joe Manchin voted in favor of Senate Bill (S) 1, “For the People Act”.  Shortly before his vote, he proposed a compromise amendment that Senator McConnell, Minority Leader in the Senate indicated was as” rotten to the core” as S.1.  Said McConnell –

It still subverts the First Amendment to supercharge cancel culture and the left’s name-and-shame campaign model.  It takes redistricting away from state legislatures and hands it over to computers.”

(Andrew Trunsky, Political Reporter, The Daily Caller, June 18, 2021.)

For months Manchin said he opposed the bill.  Then as a result of some Schumer arm twisting, perhaps, he changed his mind!  He’s a Democrat, so who are you going to believe? 

The defeat of S.1 is cause for celebration!  This effort by the Democrats to federalize elections that started with the introduction of H.R.1 back in January 2021, is history.  But Republicans must still be wary and vigilant of all new efforts to achieve the same results, such as House of Representatives (HR) bill 2941 and Senate Bill 1470, both titled “The Accessible Voting Act of 2021” and introduced in late April 2021.  The stated purpose of both bills is to –

“… improve access for older individuals, individuals with disabilities, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, and individuals with limited proficiency in the English language to register to vote and to cast a ballot by—(1) providing States and local governments with resources to improve accessibility when registering to vote, voting by absentee, and casting a ballot in person; and (2) expanding Federal oversight and support to ensure greater accessibility to State voting systems.”

First:  The first thing these bills do is to establish an Election Assistance Commission Office of Accessibility, with five (5) objectives: 

(1) Educating State and local election officials on the challenges faced by these constituents;

(2) Educating State and local election officials regarding the needs of these individuals;

(3) Providing educational resources in plain language to these individuals with on their rights and resources when registering to vote and voting;

(4) Providing translated educational resources for these individuals; and

(5) Studying potential improvements and providing strategies that State and local election officials may implement, and encouraging the enactment of State or local laws as necessary for such implementation.

Second:  The second thing these bills do is to establish a National Resource Center on Accessible Voting.  The Center is to provide State and local election officials, poll workers, and volunteers with the information and technical assistance needed to effectively provide accessible voting, and ensure these individuals are given an equivalent opportunity to vote, including with privacy and independence. The Center shall also identify barriers to accessible voting among these populations and propose solutions that States and localities can adopt.  The Center may contract with “eligible entities: that –

  1. have demonstrated expertise in working with organizations or individuals on issues affecting individuals with disabilities and older individuals;
  2. have documented experience in providing training and technical assistance on a national basis or a formal relationship with an organization that has such experience;
  3. partner with other organizations that have demonstrated expertise in election security; and
  4. meet such other criteria as determined appropriate by the Office of Accessibility.

Third:  The third thing these bills require is for State and local election officials to collect data and administer a public national voter accessibility website to ensure these individuals are “provided easy access to clear and understandable voter information for each State.”  These state websites will inform/provide everyone, not just those identified within these bills of:

  1. With respect to local election officials (local election officials, poll workers, and volunteers): (i) guidance to ensure that polling places are accessible for individuals with disabilities and older individuals in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence) as for other voters; and (ii)) online training and resources;
  2. With respect to voters

(i) the accessibility of all polling places within the State, including outreach programs to inform individuals about the availability of accessible polling places;

(ii) how to register to vote and confirm voter registration in the State;

(iii) the location and operating hours of all polling places in the State;

(iv) the availability of aid or assistance for all individuals to cast their vote in a manner that provides the same opportunity for access and participation (including privacy and independence);

(v) the availability of transportation aid or assistance to the polling place for individuals with disabilities or older individuals;

(vi) recent changes in State and Federal voting procedures that impact individuals with disabilities or older individuals;

(vii)  the rights and protections under State and Federal law for individuals with disabilities and older individuals to participate in elections; and

(viii) how to contact State, local, and Federal officials with complaints or grievances if individuals feel their ability to register to vote or vote has been blocked or delayed.

  1. With respect to the website itself, these bills require States to “partner with an outside technical organization with demonstrated experience in establishing accessible and easy to use accessible election websites” and to “provide training to in-house personnel of the State or units of local government to maintain and update election websites in an accessible manner.”

Fourth:  These bills also establish a complaint process and systems that refers complaints by these particular individuals to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Fifth:  These bills require each State, i.e., the chief state election official, to develop a state plan through an established committee will describe “how the State and local governments will meet the requirements for an accessible election website.”  Committee membership will consist of a minimum of seventeen (17) members: 

(1) The chief election officials of the four most populous jurisdictions within the State.

(2) The chief election officials of the four least populous jurisdictions within the State.

(3)  Representatives from two disability advocacy groups, including at least one such representative who is an individual with a disability.

(4) Representatives from two older individual advocacy groups, including at least one such representative who is an older individual.

(5) Representatives from two independent non-governmental organizations with expertise in establishing and maintaining accessible websites.

(6) Representatives from two independent non-governmental voting rights organizations.

(7) Representatives from State protection and advocacy systems as defined in section 102 of the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act of 2000 (42 U.S.C. 15002).

Sixth:  These bills would amend Title III of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (52 U.S.C. 21018 et seq.), by inserting after section 306 the following three new provisions:

“SEC. 307. ACCESS TO ABSENTEE VOTER REGISTRATION PROCEDURES AND NO-EXCUSE ABSENTEE VOTING FOR ALL VOTERS.”

“(a) In General — Notwithstanding section 6(c) and subparagraph (B) or (D) of section 8(a)(1) of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (52 U.S.C. 20505(c); 20507(a)(1)), each State shall—

(1) permit any eligible voter to—(A) request and utilize absentee ballot procedures for elections for Federal office; and (B) vote by absentee ballot in elections for Federal office;

(2) accept and process, with respect to any election for Federal office, any otherwise valid voter registration application from any eligible voter if the application is received by the appropriate State election official not less than 21 days before the election;

(3) accept and process, with respect to any election for Federal office, any otherwise valid absentee ballot application from any eligible voter if the application is received by the appropriate State election official not less than 7 days before the election;

(4) in addition to any other method of registering to vote in the State, establish procedures—

(A) for States to send voter registration applications to eligible voters in accordance with the eligible voter's preferred method of transmission as designated under subparagraph (B);

(B) by which an eligible voter may designate whether the eligible voter prefers that such voter registration applications be transmitted by mail or electronically; and

(C) to allow eligible voters to electronically submit the mail voter registration application form prescribed under section 9(a)(2) of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (52 U.S.C. 20508(a)(2));

(5) in addition to any other method of applying for an absentee ballot in the State, establish procedures—

(A) for States to send absentee ballot applications to eligible voters in accordance with the eligible voter’s preferred method of transmission as designated under subparagraph (B);

(B) by which an eligible voter may designate whether the eligible voter prefers that such absentee ballot requests be transmitted and submitted by mail or electronically; and

(C) under which, not later than 7 days after the appropriate State or local election official has approved or rejected an absentee ballot application, the official shall provide the individual a notice of the disposition of the application, and in the case of rejection of the application provide the individual with the reason for rejection and options to correct or update their application;

(6) establish procedures to allow eligible voters to establish a permanent absentee voter status until the voter submits an application to terminate their permanent absentee voter status;

“SEC. 308. ACCESS TO VOTING FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES AND OLDER INDIVIDUALS.”

Among other things, under this newly added section:

  1. Each State will also ensure homeless individuals are able to use “drop boxes” to cast their ballots. 
  2. Each State will consider options to establish ‘mobile polling sites’ to allow election officials or volunteers to travel to private homes, long-term care facilities and assist residents who request assistance in casting a ballot in order to maintain the privacy and independence of voters in these facilities.

“SEC. 309. PROTECTIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS SUBJECT TO GUARDIANSHIP.”

A State shall not determine that an individual lacks the capacity to vote in an election for Federal office on the ground that the individual is subject to guardianship, unless a court of competent jurisdiction issues a court order finding by clear and convincing evidence that the individual cannot communicate, with or without accommodations, a desire to participate in the voting process.

Seventh:  The Federal Government through the Office of Accessibility will make payments to each eligible State based on a complex allocation which is itself based on an amount (expressed as a percentage) equal to the quotient of— (i) the voting age population of the State (as reported in the most recent decennial census); and (ii) the total voting age population of all States (as reported in the most recent decennial census).  Notwithstanding this formula, an eligible State would be entitled to not less than $1,000,000.  However, at least 10 percent of funds allocated to a State must be distributed to units of local government to develop or upgrade accessible election websites and to share information with the statewide accessible election website as described.

Finally, a third bill may be just over the horizon.  There are rumors of a new Federal elections take-over bill, nominally referred to as H.R. 4, “The Voting Rights Advancement Act.”  It was first introduced in January 2019 during the last session of Congress, but did not advance out of committee.  As far as I can determine, it has not yet been introduced in the House.

The above is only a partial summary of what is in these bills.  Please review one or both of them if you need a greater understanding of their contents.

S.1, “For the People Act”, was defeated.  Hopefully, Senate Republicans will also defeat H.R. 2941 and S 1470, both titled, “The Accessible Voting Act of 2021”.

The Democrats will never give up!  Neither should we! 

Resistance is never futile!

I hope this is of value!

Demetria Carter

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  • Amanda Mercer
    published this page in Blog 2021-06-24 16:51:27 -0400