UPDATED 3:20 PM PT – Tuesday, January 26, 2021
Democrats proposed a bill to bolster the federal government’s control over elections. House lawmakers, including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) are pushing the “For the People Act” through the lower chamber in hopes that representatives will take up the legislation by the first week of February.
However, critics claimed the reforms within the bill are just another power play by Democrats seeking to make the election process similar to the one in California. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) even called a previous version of the bill a “massive federal government take over that would undermine the integrity of our elections.”
Despite these concerns, Democrats sponsoring the bill claimed it would help Americans place more trust in elections.
If we’re going to deliver on health care, housing, & climate, we must start by ensuring our democracy works. We must end gerrymandering, voter suppression & dark money that have rigged our system. That’s why the For the People Act will be the first item on @SenateDems agenda.
— Senator Jeff Merkley (@SenJeffMerkley) January 19, 2021
“If we could get the reforms that are embodied in H.R.1 into law it would be absolutely transformational,” Rep. John Sarbanes (D-Md.) said. “It would be the most robust, breathtaking set of reforms that we’ve seen in two generations.”
The “For the People Act” would prohibit states from requiring identification for individuals voting by mail. The legislation would also forbid states from requiring a witness signature on absentee ballots. Under general circumstances, election officials may not impose signature verification requirements in order to accept or count an absentee ballot.
The bill would also enable ballot harvesting by allowing individuals to designate another person to drop off their ballot as long as they are not being paid to do so.
While former Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocked the bill in the past, Democrats will likely use their majority in both chambers to push the proposal through until it is signed into law by Joe Biden.