WASHINGTON, D.C. — Rep. Claudia L. Tenney, R-22, has announced her support for a package of amendments to the legislation H.R. 1, also known as the For the People Act.
In a press release, Tenney said the “sweeping legislation amounts to an unprecedented federal takeover of state elections,” which would “weaken the integrity of the voting process, lead to massive unfunded mandates on our communities, prevent meaningful oversight of elections, and pave the way for errors and abuse.”
“Congress should be focused on protecting the integrity of America’s elections,” Tenney said. “Instead, Speaker Nancy Pelosi is trying to rush legislation through Congress that will make it more difficult for our communities to administer fair and transparent elections. The very policies that led to mistakes in New York’s 22nd Congressional District are the same policies now being proposed for the nation by House Democrats in H.R. 1. This bill is bad for American elections and if H.R. 1 passes, the errors exposed in my race won’t be the exception, they will become the new norm.”
The For the People Act was first introduced and passed in the House of Representatives in January 2019 to, proponents say, protect voting rights, change campaign finance laws to reduce the influence of money in politics, limit partisan gerrymandering and create new ethics rules for federal officeholders. It was originally introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes, D-3, Maryland. The bill was not voted on in the then Republican-majority Senate.
The bill would require states to offersame-day voter registrationfor federal elections and to permit voters to make changes to their registration at the polls. It would require states to hold early voting for at least 15 days and would establish automatic voter registration for individuals to be eligible to vote in elections for federal office in the state. Under the automatic voter registration provision, eligible citizens who provide information to state agencies such as a department of motor vehicles would be automatically registered to vote unless they opt out of doing so. The bill would require states to offer online voter registration, which has already been adopted in 39 states and the District of Columbia. The bill would make it a criminal offense “to corruptly hinder, interfere with, or prevent another person from registering to vote,” and would establish criminal penalties for such conduct. The bill would also authorize 16- and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote in advance of them becoming 18. The bill also contains various provisions to promote voting access for individuals with disabilities, as well as for absent military voters.
Tenney was sworn into office on Feb. 11 after a recount process that took the New York State Supreme Court nearly 100 days to conclude. The process, Tenneys said, revealed several errors that occurred in large part due to new election mandates. Tenney said H.R. 1 would pave the way for a system rife with errors and abuse and would require states to adopt no-excuse absentee voting which Tenney said overwhelmed election officials in New York’s 22nd Congressional District and led to numerous errors.
The State Supreme Court Judge Scott DelConte, who presided over the court proceedings in the case, did not, through his comments or rulings, discuss any such shortcomings in state election law, rather citing errors in application of the laws by individual county boards of elections. In the case of the Oneida County Board of Elections, DelConte squarely found fault errors by local BOE Commissioners Rose Grimaldi and Carolann Cardone, who have both since resigned their positions.
Tenney claims that H.R. 1 would promote ballot harvesting, prevent election officials from maintaining the integrity of voter lists, make it harder to verify the eligibility of voters and prohibit states from adopting voter identification laws. The amendments Tenney is co-sponsoring she says provide an alternative to H.R. 1. The congresswoman said the amendments would restore fairness to elections through targeted reforms focused on transparency and respect for the primary role states play in administering elections.
The amendments Tenney is supporting include:
Amendment #25 — This amendment, Tenney said, would offer a more commonsense approach to election security that would enhance federal election integrity by addressing three key areas: voter registration, the casting of ballots, and tabulation.
Amendment #176 — Adds a new subtitle prohibiting the collection and transmission of ballot harvesting by third parties.
Amendment #117 — Strikes ballot harvesting provisions.
Amendment #5 — Strikes any provision that weakens the authority of states to enact or enforce voter ID laws. Specifically, this amendment strikes a provision that would prohibit states from requiring identification to obtain an absentee ballot and strikes another provision that requires states with voter ID laws to also accept a sworn written statement in place of photo identification.
Amendment #15 — Provides a baseline for federal voter identification and fraud protection law by requiring the chief state election official of each state to certify that recipients of mail-in or absentee ballots are living, U.S. citizens, and eligible to vote prior to mailing a ballot for a federal election.
Amendment #144 — Requires all mail-in ballots to arrive by Election Day and include the signature of the voter. Certain third parties would still be allowed to deliver ballots for a voter, but, except for mail carriers, would additionally be required to provide their own signature. None of these provisions would apply to the uniformed services. Currently, most states allow for ballots postmarked by Election Day yet received afterwards, to be counted.
Amendment #163 — Ensures states maintain access to appropriate interstate crosscheck systems by striking additional conditions on their use.